GREELEY, Colo. (KDVR) — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Wednesday that JBS will pay up to $5.5 million to around 300 employees and provide other relief to end a discrimination lawsuit against the Greeley beef processing plant.
The EEOC lawsuit was filed in 2010. It claimed that JBS discriminated against employees because they were Muslim, immigrants from Somalia, and Black.
In the settlement announcement, the EEOC said JBS denied Muslim employees the ability to pray as required by their religion, and that Muslim employees were harassed when they tried to pray during scheduled breaks or even on bathroom breaks.
The settlement announcement also said that during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in 2008, JBS shut off water fountains at the facility or tagged them to stop employees from using them, which prevented Muslim employees from getting a drink of water after fasting all day and from washing before prayers.
According to allegations by the EEOC, JBS also denied Somali Muslim employees bathroom breaks and disciplined them more harshly than other employees.
The settlement states JBS must take the following actions to prevent further discrimination:
- JBS will make all former employees covered under the decree eligible for rehire.
- It will review, update, and post its anti-discrimination policies; maintain a 24-hour hotline for reporting discrimination; investigate employee complaints; support a diversity committee; and provide annual trainings to all employees on the laws prohibiting employment discrimination.
- JBS also must provide clean, quiet, and appropriate locations other than bathrooms for employees’ religious observances, including daily prayers, and must also allow employees to use locker rooms or other locations that do not pose a safety risk for observation of their religious practices.
“The EEOC is proud to obtain such significant relief for the hundreds of workers harmed by the unlawful employment practices alleged in this lawsuit,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “This case serves as a reminder that systemic discrimination and harassment remain significant problems that we as a society must tackle. I am hopeful that the employer’s new policies, especially those providing for swift handling of harassment complaints and ensuring appropriate times and places for employees to practice their faith, are a step in the right direction.”