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Wis. Meatpacker Settles Sex-Discrimination Lawsuit

Fri, 02/04/2011 - 3:36am
Dinesh Ramde, Associated Press

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A Wisconsin meatpacking company has agreed to pay $1.65 million to settle a sex-discrimination lawsuit accusing it of rejecting 970 female applicants over a two-year period, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday.

Green Bay Dressed Beef LLC will pay the money in the form of back pay, benefits and interest, Labor Department spokesman Scott Allen said.

Labor officials examined the company's hiring records as part of a standard investigation of federal contractors, department spokesman Scott Allen said. The Green Bay company has contracts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Defense, he said.

"We hadn't gotten any complaints," he said. "It was just part of a regular compliance evaluation, where we look at companies that have federal contracts and ensure they're complying with labor laws."

A message left with the company Thursday was not immediately returned.

Allen said the allegations involved women applying for positions as general laborers in 2006 and 2007.

"It's not that they didn't hire women, it's that they didn't hire enough," he said.

Allen said about 25 percent of the company's roughly 1,421 workers at the time were female. As part of the settlement, the beef supplier will make 248 job offers to affected women as positions become available, he said, bringing the proportion of female workers to about 43 percent.

The Labor Department said the company has already made more than 60 hires.

The $1.65 million will be divided among the eligible women who file claims. If all 970 women do so, they'd each receive about $1,700.

The company also agreed to strengthen its internal policies to ensure that all employment practices fully comply with the law.

The Labor Department describes the company as a leading provider of beef products for federal school lunch programs and for American soldiers worldwide. The company is part of the fresh-meats division of Minneapolis-based American Foods Group LLC.

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