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March 06, 2000
Labor Dept Hits Tyson Foods, Sunoco with Discrimination Fines
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Department of Labor has announced some big fines for discrimination against two household names. The Agency's strategy seems to be to aggressively pursue high profile cases and hope it will have the same effect as a state trooper parked by the side of a busy highway.

Tyson Foods -- Discriminatory Hiring

Tyson Foods, Inc. has agreed to pay $230,000 to settle allegations of discriminatory hiring practices against women and minorities at its Forest, Miss., poultry plant. Under the agreement with the U.S. Labor Department, Tyson also will review its employee selection procedures to ensure non-discriminatory hiring in the future.

The administrative complaint stemmed from a compliance review of the plant conducted by the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. The agency's investigation found that, from Jan. 1, 1996 through June 30, 1997, Tyson discriminated against qualified women who applied for entry-level laborer jobs and qualified African American applicants for craft positions.

"Resolution of this case underscores the department's commitment to ensuring that all qualified applicants have equal hiring opportunities in the workplace," Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman said.

Tyson agreed to distribute $183,000 in back pay and benefits and $27,000 in interest equally among women applicants who were not hired. An additional $16,000 in back wages and benefits and $4,000 in interest will be divided equally among the minority applicants who were not selected.

The company has sent job offers to all 859 rejected women applicants and has hired 180 of them into laborer positions. Job offers were also made to the 10 rejected minority applicants, three of whom accepted craft positions.

Sunoco -- Pay Equity Issues

Major petroleum refiner Sunoco, Inc. today agreed to pay 15 women executives at its Philadelphia headquarters $250,000 in back wages and salary adjustments. The agreement with the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs resolves pay discrepancies between the women and men who do similar work.

"It's absolutely imperative that women are paid as much as men with similar responsibilities," Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman said. "Companies may not realize they have a pattern of pay discrimination and we urge them to audit their own records to be certain all of their employees are paid fairly."

The settlement follows a regularly scheduled compliance review that began in August 1997 at Sunoco headquarters, where 958 people work. The women work in a variety of positions, including financial analysis, sales coordination, accounting and procurement. The 15 women will receive a total of $204,698 in back pay and interest. In addition to the back wages, 14 of the women will receive $45,000 in salary adjustments. One of the women has resigned.

Sunoco employs approximately 11,000 and operates five domestic refineries. Sunoco supplies the federal government with petroleum products and as a federal contractor is prohibited from employment discrimination. The contract compliance office is responsible for enforcing affirmative action requirements of all companies doing business with the federal government.

As part of the agreement, Sunoco will develop a standardized policy for setting beginning salaries and will train its managers to use the policy consistently. It will also require second-level reviews of initial salary decisions to ensure they are fair and equitable.

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