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Press Release


The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


Black Applicant Denied Hire Because of Race, Federal Agency Charged

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Franke, Inc., doing business as Franke Foodservice Systems, will offer permanent employment to an African American applicant and furnish other relief to resolve a race discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC had charged that Franke Foodservice, headquartered in LaVergne, Tenn., refused to hire the black applicant into a permanent position at its Fayetteville, Tenn., facility because he disclosed a felony conviction on his application – even though the company hired a white applicant a year earlier who made a similar disclosure. Franke Foodservice manufactures and distributes foodservice equipment for quick service restaurant chains and retailers that offer prepared foods.

According to the EEOC’s suit, field under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee (No. 3:08-cv-0515), the black applicant was placed at Franke Foodservice as a temporary employee through a staffing service. He completed an application for a permanent position with the company and responded truthfully to the question that asked whether he had a felony conviction. Although the company’s application provided that having a felony conviction would not automatically disqualify one from employment, he was denied an interview and permanent employment. Approximately one year earlier, a white applicant had completed an application for permanent employment and disclosed a felony conviction. Nevertheless, the white applicant was interviewed and hired.

“The EEOC looks closely at disparate hiring practices,” said Faye Williams, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Tennessee, Arkansas and 17 counties in Northern Mississippi. “The individual in this case deserved to be treated the same as any other similarly situated applicant for hire. We are pleased that the company decided to resolve this matter without undue expense, provided justice for the applicant, and will retrain its management staff regarding race discrimination to prevent differences in treatment in the future.

”Under the terms of the one-year consent decree signed by District Judge Robert L. Echols on March 24, 2009, Franke Foodservice will:

  • Hire the African American applicant into a permanent position, provide seniority, and pay him $7,400 in back pay with interest;
  • Refrain from discriminating against any employee because of race or retaliation for complaining about any discrimination;
  • Provide employment discrimination awareness training, including a segment on the EEOC’s Compliance Manual Section, Race and Color Discrimination, to supervisory and management personnel at the company’s Tennessee locations;
  • Reaffirm its non-discriminatory hiring policy as outlined in its employment handbook;
  • Maintain records of all applicants who complain about race discrimination, including whether an applicant was denied hire because of a record of a felony; and
  • Submit reports to the EEOC regarding these complaints.

EEOC Memphis District Director Katharine W. Kores said, “In Fiscal Year 2008, when this lawsuit was filed, race-based charges continued to be the most frequently filed charge with the EEOC, accounting for about 35% of all charge allegations. This case demonstrates that employers must be vigilant in ensuring that employees are treated equally in the workplace. Effective training to all managers is a necessary safeguard in eradicating discrimination.”

In FY 2008, the EEOC received 33,937 race discrimination charge filings, an 11% increase from the prior year and one of the highest levels ever.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at

This page was last modified on March 26, 2009.

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