December 13th, 2011

Two Minnesota companies have recently been accused by the federal government of employment discrimination.

Federal regulators first accused Cargill Inc. last month of discriminating on both race and gender grounds at its Arkansas turkey plant. The government claims that the company discriminated against thousands of entry-level workers at that plant.

The government has threatened to pull back its federal contracts from the company, which Cargill says amount to more than $60 million.

The Labor Department is arguing that the plant maintained hiring standards which led to women being less likely to be offered employment and Asian applicants to be unfairly favored from 2005 to 2008. The suit also states that the meatpacker owes back wages and interest to the alleged victims of discrimination – and at least 167 of them should be offered jobs.

Cargill has denied the allegations.

The Labor Department has also filed a complaint against a Minnesota boat maker and its parent company, accusing them of discriminating against more than 200 female applicants.

The company has argued that women were less likely than men to be selected for entry-level jobs only because the women did not have the desired manufacturing experience.

The Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs investigated the issue and reportedly found that of the men and women who both lacked experience, men were hired more often.

The lawsuit aims to terminate its government contracts and demand that the company offer solutions to the affected job applicants.

Experts have said the two suits are just a couple of examples of the Labor Department’s increasingly aggressive position on investigations.

Source: Star Tribune, “Minnesota boat maker Lund accused of bias,” Jennifer Bjorhus, Dec. 1, 2011.