LUMBERTON, N.C. — The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs have filed an administrative complaint against Nash Finch Co. for systematically discriminating against more than 80 qualified women who applied for order selector positions at the company's Lumberton facility. Nash Finch is the second-largest publicly traded wholesale food distributor in the United States and is based in Minneapolis, Minn. The company contracts with the federal government to provide goods and services to more than 200 military bases in the U.S. and overseas.
Over the past decade, OFCCP settled discrimination cases with Nash Finch facilities in Norfolk, Va., St. Cloud, Minn., and Omaha, Neb. In those cases, OFCCP uncovered serious violations of the law with regard to recordkeeping and hiring discrimination, and found the company's policies and procedures created an uneven playing field for women, minorities and veterans seeking employment with the company.
"It is unacceptable that a company which profits from lucrative federal contracts would repeatedly violate the law in this manner," said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu. "Nash Finch has demonstrated an unfortunate pattern and practice of hiring discrimination, and the American taxpayers should not have to bankroll this company's bad behavior anymore."
Order selectors at the Lumberton facility pull warehouse stock to fill customer orders. Under Executive Order 11246, federal contractors cannot discriminate in employment practices based on gender. However, data collected from Nash Finch during a six-month period showed striking hiring discrepancies. The company hired approximately 6 percent of qualified female applicants versus 26 percent of male applicants. In 2007 and 2008, there were no women in any order selector positions at the Lumberton distribution center.
The Labor Department's administrative complaint seeks remedies for the rejected applicants, including lost wages, benefits and interest for more than 80 affected class members, as well as job offers and retroactive seniority for at least 11 of the original applicants. Moreover, OFCCP is petitioning the Labor Department's administrative law judge to cancel all of Nash Finch's existing federal contracts and debar the company from entering into any future contracts until the violations are resolved and the company corrects its discriminatory employment practices.
In addition to Executive Order 11246, OFCCP's legal authority exists under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. As amended, these three laws hold those who do business with the federal government, both contractors and subcontractors, to the fair and reasonable standard that they not discriminate in employment on the basis of gender, race, color, religion, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran.