Kraft Heinz Sued For Racial Discrimination And Harassment At The Tulare plant

Three former employees of Kraft Heinz Co. sued the company for widespread racial discrimination and harassment at its dairy plant in Tulare, California. Their lawsuit cited numerous violations of state and federal labor laws, including retaliation and wrongful termination.

Plaintiffs Alex Horn, Lance Aytman and Keith Hooker, who are all Black, seek damages in excess of $30 million. According to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. Eastern District Court of California, the men were subjected to many alleged racist acts from 2012 to 2018. Among the examples cited in the complaint included coworkers drawing swastikas on their lockers, leaving notes using the N-word and making death threats.

The employees reported the alleged incidents to the company’s supervisors and human resources department. However, they failed to conduct proper investigations or take any corrective action. The complaints were ultimately dismissed. The lawsuit detailed an instance in which a supervisor told the plaintiffs “to keep their heads down” or risk unemployment.

Supervisors allegedly made decisions on promotions, transfer requests, raises, training and other employment matters based on racial bias and subjectivity. They repeatedly favored non-Black workers over the three men. While other Black employees allegedly experienced similar mistreatment, they did not speak up out of fear of retaliation.

The plaintiffs claimed they suffered depression and other mental health conditions while working at the Tulare plant. Horn and Aytman were ultimately fired after taking unpaid medical leaves of absence.

Experiencing discrimination in the workplace can cause severe harm to a person’s career and mental wellbeing. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits employment discrimination based on race and other protected personal characteristics.

Workers who have experienced racial discrimination or other forms of unlawful treatment at work should speak to an employment lawyer. At Erlich Law Firm, we understand it can be difficult to come forward with such complaints, especially if an employer has threatened retaliation.

You can discuss your situation with us during a free initial consultation. An experienced Oakland employment attorney can help you understand your rights and provide legal guidance. Contact us today to learn more.

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