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Press Release 02-22-2018

EEOC Sues Chicago Meat Authority  For Race Discrimination and Retaliation

Meat Processor Harassed Blacks, Shunned Them for Hire, and Fired Black Employee for Complaining, Federal Agency Charges

CHICAGO - The Chicago Meat Authority, a Chicago meat processing plant, violated federal civil rights law by committing a variety of discriminatory practices against African-Americans, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the company used recruitment and hiring methods that perpetuated its largely Hispanic workforce and had a disparate impact on African-Americans, subjected the black employees who were in the workforce to racial harassment, and fired an employee in retaliation for complaining about the racial harassment.

Julianne Bowman, EEOC district director in Chicago, stated that EEOC's investigation revealed that company management indicated a preference for hiring Hispanic employees over black employees even though the company is in a largely African-American area. Bowman noted that there was also evidence of co-workers using racial slurs to refer to black employees. According to the agency's investigation, rather than remedying the harassment, the company fired an African-American employee in retaliation for complaining about the harassing slurs.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace discrimination (including failure to hire and harassment) based on race. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case, EEOC v. Chicago Meat Authority, Civil Action No. 18-cv-1357, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and was assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman. The EEOC's litigation effort will be led by Trial Attorneys Laurie Elkin and Laura Feldman and supervised by Supervisory Trial Attorney Deborah Hamilton.

"This case illustrates that race discrimination continues to be a barrier for African-Americans seeking employment," said Greg Gochanour, EEOC regional attorney in Chicago. "Adding insult to injury, according to the EEOC's investigation, the small number of African-Americans who were hired experienced discrimination once on the job," Gochanour said.

EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Deborah Hamilton added, "As soon a company becomes aware of such discriminatory harassment in the workplace, it must act promptly to stop it. That is the law, and the EEOC will hold employers accountable if they don't live up to that responsibility."

The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available on its website at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.