Arkansas Mill to Pay $350K in Discrimination Probe

January 7, 2009

An Arkansas rice mill has agreed to pay $350,000 after the federal government found the company discriminated against hundreds of women and non-Hispanic job applicants, the U.S. Labor Department announced.

Producers Rice Mill Inc., based in Stuttgart, discriminated against 246 females and 363 non-Hispanics who were seeking work as machine operators or laborers with the farmer-owned cooperative, the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs said in a news release.

The company agreed to pay the applicants $350,000 in back pay and interest, the release said.

“This settlement of $350,000 on behalf of 609 females and non-Hispanics should put all federal contractors on notice that the Labor Department is serious about eliminating systemic discrimination,” Deputy Assistant Secretary Charles E. James Sr. of the Contract Compliance Programs said.

No one for Producers Rice Mill answered the office telephone after business hours Jan. 5.

The Labor Department alleged the cooperative engaged in hiring discrimination over 2004 and 2005.

According to the settlement, Producers Rice also will fill 41 machine operator and laborer positions from among those who were discriminated against, the government said. In addition, the cooperative agreed to monitor itself for two years to ensure its compliance with the law.

Producers Rice Mill has several contracts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to process and ship rice.

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