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Indianapolis – The Indiana Civil Rights Commission’s (ICRC) Deputy Director, Akia Haynes, announced today that there is probable cause to believe that Tyson Foods, Inc. in Logansport, Indiana violated the Indiana Civil Rights Law and other applicable statute 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. “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 February 8, 2013, an employee injured himself while working on a machine at Tyson Foods, Inc. in Logansport, Indiana. The injured employee notified both Complainant, the Supervisor of Shipping, and an American supervisor about the incident and requested to go home instead of being examined by Respondent’s medical personnel.
Pursuant to 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.