Perdue Farms Inc. will pay $25,500 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced. The EEOC had charged in its lawsuit that Perdue Farms violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) by refusing to hire a woman for a position because of her age.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina (EEOC v. Perdue Farms, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:08-CV-38), Audrey Sheftall applied for a position in the deboning department at Perdue Farm’s Lewiston, N.C., facility when she was 66 years old. Although Sheftall was qualified for the position, the EEOC said, Perdue Farms refused to hire her. According to the EEOC, Perdue Farms subsequently hired approximately 74 substantially younger individuals within the month after Sheftall applied, including Sheftall’s granddaughter, who had applied on the same day as Sheftall.
In addition to paying monetary relief to Sheftall, the settlement requires Perdue Farms to take other actions, including providing annual training on age discrimination and unlawful retaliation to all of its managers and supervisors. In addition, Perdue Farms must post at its Lewiston facility a notice concerning employees’ rights under federal anti-discrimination laws and provide periodic reports to the EEOC on its hiring practices.
“The EEOC is committed to fighting age discrimination in the workplace,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office. “Applicants for employment must be evaluated based on skills and qualifications, rather than based on stereotypes about the abilities, or inabilities, of older persons. Every individual deserves the freedom to compete in the workplace on a fair and level playing field, without discriminatory barriers.”
Perdue Farms is one of the nation’s largest poultry producers. It has facilities in 16 states in the Eastern and Southern United States and employs approximately 20,000 people nationwide. The Lewiston facility where Sheftall applied processes roughly 40,000 chickens each day for sale to retailers.