The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

PRESS RELEASE
8-12-09

EEOC SUES SILGAN CONTAINERS FOR RACE DISCRIMINATION

Federal Agency Says Company Belatedly Hired Black Employee Only to Fire Him Shortly After

MILWAUKEE -- The largest metal food can supplier in North America, Silgan Containers Manufacturing Corporation, violated federal law by discriminating against an African American employee at its plant in Oconomowoc, Wis., the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

The agency’s administrative investigation which preceded the lawsuit revealed that in September 2006, Romardro Henderson, who is African American, applied to Silgan for a general laborer job, according to Chicago District Director John Rowe, who supervised the inquiry. Rowe said that, based on the investigation, Henderson underwent a physical examination on October 30, 2006, but was not offered a job until May 2007. Several whites applied, were interviewed, and had physicals after Henderson, but were hired before he was. On June 14, 2007, Silgan fired Henderson. Rowe said the investigation also indicated that Silgan seemed to treat its white workers better than it treated Henderson and that Henderson appeared to the EEOC to have been the victim of disparate and discriminatory treatment based on his race.

Race discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary conciliation agreement out of court. The agency seeks compensatory and punitive damages for Henderson in addition to an order barring future discrimination, and other relief. The suit, captioned EEOC v. Silgan Containers Manufacturing Corporation, Civil Action No. 09-C-782, was filed in federal district court in Milwaukee and assigned to U.S. Magistrate Judge William E. Callahan.

“Today, 45 years after the enactment of the landmark Civil Rights Act, we do not have a ‘post-racial’ society,” Rowe said. “Too many employers are still discriminating on the basis of race, but the federal government will enforce our national policy against such discrimination in the workplace.”

EEOC Chicago Regional Attorney John Hendrickson noted, “Combating race discrimination remains a priority for the EEOC. We continue to do all we can to ensure that all Americans receive equal opportunities to earn a productive living for themselves and their families.”

According to its web site, Silgan Containers Manufacturing Corporation is owned by Silgan Containers Corporation, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Silgan Holdings of Stamford, Conn. Silgan Containers is the largest manufacturer of metal food containers in North America, with net sales of $1.79 billion in 2008. Silgan Containers manufactures and sells steel and aluminum containers and ends that are used primarily by processors and packagers for food products, such as soup, vegetables, fruit, meat, tomato based products, coffee, seafood, adult nutritional drinks, pet food and other food products. Silgan Containers has manufacturing facilities in California, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It also operates the Silgan Technology Center in Oconomowoc, Wis., and the Silgan Equipment Company in Waukegan, Ill., as well as its headquarters in Woodland Hills, Ca.

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

The EEOC 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.


This page was last modified on August 12, 2009.

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