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Press Release 07-10-2015

Merrilville Ultra Foods to Pay $200,000 to Settle EEOC Sex Discrimination Suit

Northwest Indiana Grocer Preferred Male Night Crew Stockers, Agency Charged

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A Merrillville, Ind., grocer will pay $200,000 to a class of women who were denied night-crew stocking positions to settle a sex-based hiring discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

EEOC charged in its suit that Ultra Foods, owned and operated by SVT, L.L.C., violated federal law when it rejected female night crew stocker applicants because of their sex between Jan. 1, 2010 and June 30, 2014. EEOC further charged that Ultra Foods unlawfully disposed of hiring records that it should have maintained during that same time period.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 2:13-cv-0245-RLM-PRC in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the monetary settlement, the consent decree resolving the suit, which will remain in effect until July 2018, requires Ultra Foods to: not discriminate or retaliate in the future; take steps to keep all required hiring records; train supervisors and managers who play any role in hiring. Additionally, the company must ensure that one of every four night-crew stocking openings at Ultra's Merrillville Broadway Street store is offered to a woman who participated in the EEOC's lawsuit and still wants such a position; establish a protocol to ensure that female night-crew applicants will be considered for employment; and establish a continuing relationship with local Work One Centers to better ensure female recruitment.

"Ultra Foods adhered to antiquated gender-based notions of how it should fill its night-crew stocker position," said EEOC Regional Attorney Laurie Young. "This resulted in Ultra Foods hiring only two females and over 65 males in over four and a half years at its Merrillville store. Compliance with the steps laid out in the consent decree will ensure that Ultra Foods' hiring of night-crew stockers adheres to the requirements of the law and more accurately represents 21st century realities of what women can do in the workplace."

Eradicating barriers in recruitment and hiring that discriminate against women or other protected groups is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at: The Indianapolis District Office oversees Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky and parts of Ohio.