Pharos-Tribune

December 19, 2013

Tyson charged with civil rights violation

Logansport facility under investigation by Indiana Civil Rights Commission

From staff reports
Pharos-Tribune

---- — INDIANAPOLIS – There is probable cause that Tyson Foods Inc. in Logansport has violated an Indiana Civil Rights Law, according to Indiana Civil Rights Commission Deputy Director Akia Haynes.

Haynes announced today there is probable cause to believe Tyson violated the law when it terminated a Hispanic supervisor for violation of a policy while retaining a supervisor (referred to as an American by the ICRC) 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.

According to the ICRC, "it’s clear the complainant suffered an adverse employment action" when he was fired by Tyson.

"The determination we must make given the evidence provided by both parties is whether his termination had to do with his national origin," Haynes said.

In February 2013, an employee was injured while working on a machine at the Logansport facility. The injured employee notified three supervisors about the incident and requested to go home instead of being examined by Tyson medical personnel.

Pursuant to Tyson'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 another supervisor mutually agreed to allow the employee to go home without doing so. This was despite the injured employee informing both the Hispanic complainant and the other supervisor that he had consumed marijuana earlier that day.

Despite both supervisors being aware of the injured employee’s drug use, Tyson only terminated the complainant for violating the policy, according to the state's press release. As such, the release continues, Tyson's rationale for terminating the complainant while retaining the American supervisor is pretext for illegal discrimination. As a result, the ICRC has determined probable cause exists that there is a violation of civil rights laws.

The ICRC's finding of probable cause does not resolve the civil rights complaint. Rather, according to the ICRC's press release, 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.