US Foods agrees to pay $160K to settle hiring bias allegations

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Rosemont-based food service giant US Foods has decided to pay $160,000 to resolve accusations of hiring discrimination against black and female job applicants at a suburban warehouse.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced the settlement, which includes the wages and interest for 114 applicants seeking positions at the US Foods distribution facility in Bensenville between January 1st, 2018 and June 30, 2019. US Foods also agreed to offer 16 jobs for applicants, the company said on Tuesday.

According to the press release, the company denied these allegations. Labor Department spokesman Scott Allen declined to comment anything on this issue.

The supposed discrimination emerged during a routine evaluation by the Office of the Labor Department’s Federal Contract Compliance Programs. US Foods, one of the chief food distributors in the state, has federal contracts with the Department of Agriculture and other government agencies.

US Foods has still not sent notice of the settlement to the 114 applicants who were not hired for the night selector roles. Eight women who applied for permanent positions are eligible to receive at least $6,382 each. According to the agreement, the applicants for the part-time positions are eligible to receive at least $1,023 each.

In addition to the $160,000 settlement, US Foods approved to takes steps to ensure future compliance in its personnel practices, including its internal auditing procedures. US Foods must deliver documentation of job offers and hires for three years.

According to an executive order issued by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, federal contractors must not discriminate in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin.

Carmen Navarro, regional director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs in Chicago, said US Foods demonstrated its commitment to resolving the discrimination allegations by “making appropriate changes to its hiring process” according to the news release.

US Foods has 26,000 employees and more than 70 locations supplying about 300,000 restaurants operators nationwide. In 2020, US Foods generated $22.9 billion in sales, according to the company’s annual report.

Source: Chicago Tribune

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