Labor Dept.: Cargill Practices Hiring Discrimination

The department says the meat company systematically discriminated against more than 4,000 qualified applicants who sought entry-level production jobs.

SPRINGDALE, Ark. (AP) — The U.S. Labor Department says Cargill Meat Solutions systematically discriminated against more than 4,000 qualified applicants who sought entry-level production jobs at a facility that processes turkeys in northwest Arkansas.

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs filed an administrative complaint against Cargill Meat Solutions, which is a subsidiary of Minneapolis-based Cargill, Inc. Federal officials want to cancel the Cargill's existing government contracts and prevent future contracts until the company stops what they call discriminatory practices.

Cargill Meat Solutions currently holds contracts worth more than $550 million with the U.S. Department of Defense.

The Labor Department says women were less likely to be employed in entry-level production jobs and Asian and Pacific Islander job seekers were unfairly favored.

A Cargill spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.


Cargill has responded to the Labor Department claims:

The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a complaint alleging that Cargill discriminated against white, black, Hispanic, Native American and female job applicants at a facility in Springdale, Ark. The allegations are without merit.

“We have a very diverse workforce in Springdale,” said Steve Willardsen, head of the Cargill plant there. “In fact, our employee population is 84 percent minority, and 36 percent of our plant employees are women.”

The complaint alleges that hiring at the plant favored Asian/Pacific Islanders, of which there is a large population in northern Arkansas. It was based on three years of data starting in August 2005, a time when jobs were plentiful in the area and unemployment was low. 

Cargill Meat Solutions selects the best-qualified job candidates, without regard to their gender, race, ethnicity or nationality. It appears that the allegations are based on a statistical analysis only, and we look forward to resolving the matter.

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