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EEOC Sues Upstate Niagara for Sex Discrimination

Employer Failed to Hire Qualified Women for Production Jobs, Federal Agency Charges

BUFFALO, N.Y. - A Buffalo dairy cooperative that produces a variety of dairy products, including milk, ice cream mix, dip, yogurt, and flavored milk-based beverages, failed to hire women for production jobs in its Buffalo and Rochester facilities, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to EEOC's complaint, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc., has, since at least 2009, denied Gail Haas and other qualified female applicants, employment opportunities for production-related positions in Upstate Niagara Cooperative dairy facilities. From to 2008 to 2014, the company hired approximately 160 employees for production jobs at these facilities and only five were women. In most instances, women were not even interviewed. Additionally, EEOC alleges that the company failed to retain applications and other hiring-related documents in violation of the record-keeping requirements of federal law.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York (EEOC v. Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc., Civil Action No.1:16-CV-00842) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC seeks instatement of Haas and other qualified female applicants, back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief.

"There is no legitimate explanation for the absence of women in production positions," said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for EEOC's New York District Office. "Many fully qualified women were applying, but Upstate Niagara seems to have viewed these positions as involving 'man's work.'"

"EEOC is uniquely positioned to root out hiring discrimination," added EEOC's New York Acting District Director Judy Keenan, "Compliance with Title VII's record-keeping requirements is essential to our ability to investigate and remedy discrimination in hiring."

EEOC's New York District Office oversees New York, Northern New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. This case was investigated by the Buffalo Local Office of EEOC. Further information about EEOC is available at