By Emily Ashcraft
Three former Kraft Heinz Food Company LLC employees alleged in a complaint filed with the Eastern District of California against the food giant that they encountered racist slurs and while working at the defendant’s dairy facility in Tulare, California.
“Coworkers and supervisors alike egregiously harassed and discriminated against Plaintiffs during their many years of tenure,” the filing alleged. “When confronted by Plaintiffs and other Black employees about these incidents, managers told Plaintiffs to keep their heads down or else they would join the unemployment line.”
The three plaintiffs claimed that the managers and leadership at the plant allowed the environment to remain hostile towards them, and told them that the corporate offices instructed them to not investigate the alleged racism. Additionally, they claimed that Kraft Heinz’s policies for hiring and promotions promoted the racist atmosphere.
In the filing, they noted that the defendant forced them to continue working despite the negative impact of the environment on their mental health. “Although no monetary sum could restore the trust, dignity, and well-being that years of unmitigated racist abuse deprived them of, Plaintiffs seek recompense for the severe harm they have suffered with respect to their lost income and earning potential, as well as their ongoing emotional distress and its impact on their personal lives and relationships,” the complaint said.
The individuals reported that they filed pro se charges previously before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, but that these claims have been exhausted.
Two of the three former employees reportedly fired during an unpaid medical leave for mental health in 2018 and 2019, the third “felt compelled to leave the Company” in 2018 although he had worked for over 20 years and was only a few years away from when he planned to retire.
The plaintiffs are represented by Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP.