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HYRUM, Cache County — The federal government is suing a Colorado-based company, saying it systematically discriminated against qualified job applicants at its meatpacking plant in Utah.
The Labor Department, in the complaint filed with its Office of Administrative Law Judges, cited a number of violations by JBS USA at its plant in Hyrum.
JBS is accused of discriminating against female, Caucasian, African-American and American Indian applicants seeking entry-level jobs at the plant.
The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Federal contracts held by JBS are in jeopardy as a result of the suit, The Herald Journal of Logan reported. Federal law prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against job applicants on the basis of sex, race, national origin, disability and status as a protected veteran.
Based in Greeley, Colorado, JBS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Brazilian meat-processing giant JBS S.A. In 2007, JBS purchased the Hyrum plant from Swift and Co.
JBS and Swift collectively received more than $140 million in federal contracts as providers of meat to various federal agencies from 2005 to 2009 when the alleged discrimination occurred, Labor Department officials said.
The suit was filed after an investigation by the department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, whose director Patricia Shiu noted JBS proudly touts itself as a leader in quality and service.
"However, to do business with the federal government, you must be a leader in equal opportunity, too," Shiu said in a statement. "(We) will use every tool available to us, including canceling a company's federal contracts if necessary, to ensure workers are treated fairly."