U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Federal Agency Charged Company Refused to Hire Applicant After Learning of Her Pregnancy
FRESNO, Calif. – Olam Americas, Inc., along with its two subsidiaries, has settled a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for $140,000 and other relief, the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that a jobseeker was denied an executive assistant position at Olam’s Fresno, Calif., facility due to her pregnancy. Olam Americas, Inc. is a leading supplier and processor of agricultural products and food ingredients.
According to the federal agency, a female applicant was initially offered the executive assistant position at Olam in December 2010. However, within a very short period of time after disclosing that she was pregnant, Olam rescinded its offer of employment to her and promptly selected an alternate, non-pregnant candidate, the EEOC said.
Pregnancy discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The EEOC filed suit against Olam in September 2011 in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California (EEOC v. Olam America, Inc., Olam West Coast d/b/a Olam Spices and Vegetables, and Olam Tomato Processors, Inc., Case No. 11-cv-01548-LJO -DLB) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Olam and the EEOC ultimately entered into a three-year consent decree, effectively settling the lawsuit. Aside from the monetary relief for the rejected applicant, Olam agreed to designate an equal employment opportunity (EEO) official to develop procedures for handling sex discrimination complaints; ensure adequate handling of discrimination complaints; hold management and human resources staff accountable for failure to comply with such policies; and provide annual EEO training to all employees at six manufacturing plants in central and northern California, along with more specialized training for managers and human resources staff. The EEOC will monitor compliance with the decree.
“Employers should hire and retain the best qualified job applicants, irrespective of one’s gender or pregnancy,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which includes Fresno in its jurisdiction. “We commend Olam for working together with the EEOC to resolve this matter and we appreciate Olam’s efforts toward ensuring equal employment opportunities for all.”
Melissa Barrios, director of the EEOC’s Fresno Local Office, added, “The EEOC is charged with ensuring that women who become pregnant are not subjected to unfair stereotypes in the workplace. We will continue to work together with employers here in our area to achieve that goal.”
According to its website, Olam Americas, Inc. employs about 3,600 workers throughout the U.S. Its parent company, Olam International, Inc., operates an integrated supply chain for 20 agricultural products in 64 countries, servicing 10,000 customers globally.
The EEOC is the federal agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.