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December 20, 2013

Civil rights commission charges Tyson with discrimination

Supervisor born overseas alleges wrongful firing.

The Indiana Civil Rights Commission has charged Tyson Foods in Logansport with violating the state's civil rights law after the plant reportedly fired a supervisor for breaching company policy but retained another who ran afoul of the same policy.

ICRC Deputy Director Akia Haynes said in a press release that the commission has found probable cause that Tyson Foods terminated a foreign-born supervisor for violation of a company policy while retaining another supervisor, one born in the U.S., who violated the same policy.

The complainant's case against Tyson is based on discrimination because of national origin. The complainant, or terminated supervisor, is identified as Hispanic, but an ICRC spokesman declined to identify the complainant's country of origin, citing a need to protect the people involved in the case.

A Tyson spokesman declined to discuss individual personnel issues, but said in an email the company's policy is to provide a work environment free of unlawful harassment and discrimination.

The company maintains a strict policy against unlawful harassment, including that based on national origin, according to spokesman Worth Sparkman, and employees are trained in harassment and discrimination policy each year.

The ICRC indicates the case stems from a Feb. 8 incident in which a Tyson employee injured himself. The employee notified the complainant, who at the time was supervisor of shipping, and another supervisor about the incident and asked to go home instead of being examined by medical personnel on staff at Tyson.

Tyson policy stipulates any employee involved in an injury which may lead to worker's compensation pay must immediately be screened for alcohol or drugs. However, the complainant and the other supervisor agreed to let the employee go home without a substance screening, according to the ICRC, though the employee had informed both supervisors that he'd consumed marijuana earlier that day.

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