Tyson Foods Receives Employment Discrimination Complaint

On Thursday, plaintiff Kenneth Anderson filed suit against Tyson Foods, Inc. (Tyson) for constitutional and civil rights violations based on the supposedly discriminatory treatment he experienced while working as an hourly laborer in Tyson’s Nashville, Arkansas, poultry processing plant. The Western District of Arkansas complaint alleged that the company took aim at Anderson, an African-American, when he pursued positions with higher pay and better working conditions like his white counterparts, and reported discriminatory behavior to human resources.

The filing explained that Anderson began to work for Tyson in October 2018, and was primarily responsible for dumping 50-pound bags of flour and breading into equipment in the facility’s “cook room.” He was allegedly told that if he performed his duties well, he would be promoted quickly from the physically demanding dumping job.

Yet, the complaint contended, 14 months went by without promotion, while the plaintiff performed his job duties in an “exemplary fashion,” and his white co-workers were moved to other positions with higher pay and better working conditions. Anderson then reportedly began to request and bid on these positions more aggressively.

The complaint explained that his efforts were met with hostility from white supervisors, who spoke to him in a degrading manner and nearly fired him for working outside the cook room, although he was instructed to do so by another supervisor. On other occasions, the plaintiff was ostensibly directed to work with heavy machinery without the proper personal protective equipment, like steel-toed boots. The plaintiff allegedly reported these transgressions to the company’s human resources department to little avail.

In June 2020, the plaintiff reportedly fell ill and did not report to work for two days. Allegedly, on the third day of his illness-related absence, he called in to notify his team that he would not be coming to work. The plaintiff claimed he did so in order to comply with the company’s “no show” policy that penalizes employees for three consecutive absences without notification.

Allegedly, the company representative Anderson spoke to informed him that he was fired, which the plaintiff’s contact in human resources later confirmed. Anderson claims that Tyson erroneously tallied his demerit “points,” and thus fired him without cause, using his supposed violation of the company’s attendance policy as a pretext for the retaliatory termination.

The complaint alleged that Anderson was unlawfully demoted, subjected to a hostile work environment, placed in unsafe working conditions in violation of Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, denied opportunities for promotion and pay raises based on his race, and retaliated against. 

The plaintiff seeks injunctive and declaratory relief in addition to damages. The plaintiff is represented by the Law Office of Angilynn Taylor, P.A.