Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

December 25, 2013

Tyson Foods charged with violating Indiana Civil Rights Law

Hendricks County Flyer

---- — The Indiana Civil Rights Commission’s (ICRC) Deputy Director, Akia Haynes, announced that there is probable cause to believe that Tyson Foods, Inc. in Logansport violated the Indiana Civil Rights Law and other applicable statutes when they terminated a Hispanic supervisor for violation of a policy, while retaining an American supervisor who violated the same policy.

“The issue presented to the ICRC is whether the Complainant was subjected to disparate discipline because of his national origin,” said Haynes, in a press release. “It’s clear he suffered an adverse employment action when Respondent terminated his employment. The determination we must make given the evidence provided by both parties is whether his termination had to do with his national origin.”

On or about Feb. 8, an employee injured himself while working on a machine at Tyson Foods in Logansport. The injured employee notified the complainant, the supervisor of shipping, and an American supervisor about the incident and requested to go home instead of being examined by the respondent’s medical personnel.

Pursuant to the respondent’s policy and procedure, all team members involved in a compensable injury are required to immediately submit to an alcohol/drug screening. However, the complainant and the American supervisor mutually agreed to allow the employee to go home without submitting to an alcohol/drug screening. This was despite the injured employee informing both the complainant and the American supervisor that he had consumed marijuana earlier that day.

Despite both supervisors being aware of the injured employee’s drug use, respondent only terminated complainant for violating the policy. As such, the respondent’s rationale for terminating the complainant while retaining the American supervisor is pretext for illegal discrimination and therefore probable cause exists that there is a violation of the applicable civil rights laws.

In order to prevail, the complainant must show that the American supervisor engaged in similarly prohibited conduct but was subjected to less severe or no discipline.

It is important to note that a finding of probable cause does not resolve a Civil Rights Complaint. Rather, it means the state has concluded its preliminary investigation and determined there is sufficient evidence to support reasonable suspicion that the Indiana Civil Rights Law has been violated. The Indiana Civil Rights Law provides remedies, including compensatory damages and injunctive relief, such as changes in the employer’s policies and training.

The Indiana Civil Rights Commission enforces the Indiana civil rights laws and provides education and services to the public in an effort to ensure equal opportunity for all Hoosiers and visitors to the State of Indiana.