U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Egg Producer Fired Employee for Reporting Race and Sexual Discrimination, Federal Agency Charges
WAELDER, Texas - Cal-Maine Foods, Inc., a national company that produces, processes and sells shell eggs, violated federal law by subjecting an African-American employee to racial and sexual harassment and retaliation, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. The discrimination occurred at the Cal-Maine Foods, facility in Waelder, Texas, a small town located east of San Antonio.
According to the EEOC's suit, a Cal-Maine supervisor subjected the black employee to racial and sexual harassment and retaliated against him because he reported the harassment to company officials and then filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC. The employee was a computer and systems controller at the Waelder plant and was responsible for monitoring a computer that ran a large machine that processed biodegradable matter into protein pellets.
The EEOC asserts that the employee was subjected to racial harassment including, among other things, the supervisor frequently using the "N" word and racial jokes and slurs. The sexual harassment included, but was not limited to, the supervisor inappropriately touching the employee on his legs and buttocks. Management and supervisory personnel from Cal-Maine knew of the discriminatory conduct but failed to take measures to prevent and correct the harassment. After he filed the discrimination charge, the EEOC said, he was subjected to increased harassment and threats by immediate supervisors. The employee was finally fired in retaliation for internally reporting the discrimination and for filing a charge with the EEOC.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits race and sex discrimination in employment and protects employees from retaliation when they report discriminatory treatment. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 5:13-cv-382) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
"This employee just wanted to come to work and do his job," said Trial Attorney Patrick Connor of the EEOC's San Antonio Field Office. "There is no excuse for the prevalent use of racial slurs and sexual mistreatment by supervisors and co-workers."
EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Judith G. Taylor added, "Every employee deserves to work in an environment free from harassment. It is shocking that in 2013, nearly 50 years after the enactment of Title VII, Cal-Maine fired the victim rather than solving the problem."
Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.