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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


EEOC Says Poultry Processor Fired Black Employee for Complaining About Racism

RALEIGH, N.C. – Mountaire Farms of North Carolina Corp. unlawfully retaliated against a former employee because she complained about race discrimination and filed a discrimination charge, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleges in a lawsuit filed today. Mountaire Farms is a poultry processor that operates a facility in Lumber Bridge, N.C., and employs approximately 2,500 people nationwide.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, around August 31, 2007, Mountaire Farms gave Carrie Nelson an unjustifiably negative performance evaluation in retaliation for two complaints that she had made regarding race discrimination. Nelson, who is African American, had complained to Mountaire Farms' management that her direct supervisor, who is white, had used racially offensive language about her and in her presence. Dissatisfied with the company's response to her discrimination complaints, Nelson filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC on October 19, 2007. Nelson was fired by Mountaire Farms for filing the charge less than two weeks later, the EEOC said.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to treat an employee less favorably based on race and to retaliate against someone who complains about the discrimination. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina (EEOC v. Mountaire Farms of North Carolina Corp., Civil Action No. 7:09-CV-00147) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.

“Retaliation is an issue of special concern to the EEOC,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District, which includes the EEOC’s Raleigh Area Office, where the charge was filed. “Employees must be free to complain about unlawful practices without fear of retribution.”

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

This page was last modified on September 16, 2009.