Last Wednesday, a former employee filed a complaint in the Northern District of Alabama against Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation for alleged racial discrimination and retaliatory termination after he was allegedly assaulted by a white co-worker.
The plaintiff, the complaint explained, who worked as a forklift operator at Pilgrim’s Pride. On May 7, 2020, a co-worker, Rodney Jackson, asked him to move a broken cage to be repaired, which he did. Then, “Jackson began to yell and insult [Powell]” and Jackson eventually “struck him in the face,” but the plaintiff did not retaliate, the complaint said.
Shortly after, the plaintiff was taken to Human Resources and was sent home for the day. Later, the plaintiff was allegedly told that he was the aggressor, not Jackson, and he was transferred to another shift to avoid being around Jackson. Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff was asked to sign a weapons sheet, but refused since “he had signed one the day [Pilgrim’s Pride] hired him” and was nearly terminated for this.
According to the complaint, Jackson was moved to the same shift as the plaintiff a few days later, and continued to work alongside him through December where he “continued to harass” and “repeatedly informed other employees when he was in earshot that he had a knife in his pocket.” After an incident occurred in which Jackson blocked Powell from clocking out, Powell was terminated on December 4, 2020.
The plaintiff is suing on the counts of race discharge, hostile work environment and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and 42 U.S.C. Section 1981 as he believed that his firing was racially motivated.
The plaintiff is seeking a permanent injunction enjoining Pilgrim’s Pride from continued violations of the Civil Rights Act; reinstatement to his position; front and back pay with employment benefits; liquidated, compensatory, special and punitive damages; attorney’s fees and costs; and other relief.
The plaintiff is represented by Barrett & Farahany.