US Foods Settles EEOC Race Discrimination Suit for $165,000

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - US Foods, Inc., formerly known as U.S. Foodservice, Inc., a Rosemont, Ill.-based food product distributor, will pay $165,000 and furnish other relief to settle a race discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that US Foods violated federal law by firing an African-American employee who worked at its Memphis facility because of his race. Specifically, the EEOC said, the company discharged the black employee after he failed to stop a Caucasian driver who reported to work under the influence of alcohol from making deliveries on his route. US Foods did not terminate the Caucasian driver for being under the influence, or another Caucasian safety specialist who saw the driver at the first stop on his route. Instead, the company discharged the white driver later for an unrelated matter.

Race discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 2:11-cv-02861) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee after first attempting a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Besides monetary relief, the 18-month consent decree settling the lawsuit enjoins US Foods from further discriminating against employees on the basis of race. The decree requires training on employee rights under Title VII and requires US Foods to maintain records of discriminatory complaints and provide annual reports to the EEOC. The decree also requires US Foods to post a notice to all employees about the lawsuit that provides the EEOC's contact information.

"It has long been plainly unlawful for a company to apply different standards of conduct and discipline to employees based on race," said Faye A. Williams, regional attorney for the EEOC's Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and portions of Mississippi. "The EEOC will continue to fight to eradicate this type of discrimination."

US Foods distributes food products, cleaning supplies, and food service equipment throughout the country. The company employs more than 25,000 associates in more than 60 locations.