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PRESS RELEASE
10-3-11

The Western Sugar Cooperative to Settle EEOC Systemic Sex Discrimination Charge

Company to Compensate Female Victims Of Alleged Discrimination, Appoint An Internal Monitor, and Implement Training Programs and Outreach To Women’s Organizations

DENVER – The Western Sugar Cooperative (Western Sugar) has agreed to pay $550,000 and furnish significant remedial relief to settle a systemic investigation alleging sex discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced jointly with the company today.

Following an investigation, the EEOC found that Western Sugar denied women training and promotions, gave them less desirable work assignments and segregated positions by gender, denied year-round employment, and paid lower wages to women at its Ft. Morgan, Colo., facility. These allegations were brought to the EEOC by a female employee, Lorelei Kilker, who filed charges on behalf of herself and other women.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Western Sugar denied the allegations, any wrongdoing, or any violation of applicable law, but agreed to resolve the matter with the EEOC through the agency’s conciliation process in order to avoid the significant cost of litigation. Western Sugar maintains that it is an equal opportunity employer that does not engage in discrimination or other unlawful conduct.

Under the agreement reached between the parties, Western Sugar will pay Kilker and a class of women a total of $550,000. Furthermore, Western Sugar agreed to remedial relief such as training for all employees, outreach to women organizations within the community and training managers on EEO compliance--all in order to prevent sex-based discrimination and to ensure equality in its workplaces. Western Sugar has also appointed an internal representative who will report to the EEOC to monitor Western Sugar’s promotion and employment practices for the next three years.

Rayford Irvin, director of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, which has jurisdiction over the state of Colorado, said, “Western Sugar is to be commended for its proactive response to the investigation and its willingness to ensure that its female employees are provided equal opportunity in the workplace. These excellent results were achieved through a cooperative process without having to resort to litigation.”

Nancy A. Sienko, director of the Denver Field Office, added, “We are pleased with the initiatives that Western Sugar has taken to ensure that female employees receive fair treatment and have the opportunity to advance within the company.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the Commission is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov. The Commission is a member of the National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force, an interagency effort established by President Obama to promote full compliance with wage discrimination laws.