By Jennifer McRae

GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4)– The JBS Plant in Greeley has agreed to pay up to $5.5 million to settle a discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit filed in 2010 alleged that the meat plant discriminated against employees because they were Muslim, Somalian and Black.

(credit: CBS)

The lawsuit claims the company denied Muslim employees the ability to pray as required by their religion at its Greeley plant. It also claimed that those groups were harrassed on the job because of their race, religion and national origin. There were also claims of racist graffiti in the bathrooms of the plant and of alleged throwing of bones and meat at those employees.

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The lawsuit was brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The settlement amount will be paid to approximately 300 employees.

(credit: CBS)

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According to the EEOC, “…the decree requires JBS to take a number of actions intended to correct and prevent further discrimination. JBS will make all former employees covered under the decree eligible for rehire. It will review, update, and post its anti-discrimination policies; maintain a 24-hour hotline for reporting discrimination; investigate employee complaints; support a diversity committee; and provide annual trainings to all employees on the laws prohibiting employment discrimination. JBS also must provide clean, quiet, and appropriate locations other than bathrooms for employees’ religious observances, including daily prayers, and must also allow employees to use locker rooms or other locations that do not pose a safety risk for observation of their religious practices.”

“The EEOC is proud to obtain such significant relief for the hundreds of workers harmed by the unlawful employment practices alleged in this law¬suit,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows in a statement. “This case serves as a reminder that systemic discrimination and harassment remain significant problems that we as a society must tackle. I am hopeful that the employer’s new policies, especially those providing for swift handling of harassment complaints and ensuring appropriate times and places for employees to practice their faith, are a step in the right direction.”

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Nikki Richardson, a spokeswoman for JBS USA, said the company does not admit any liability in the settlement, prohibits all discrimination and harassment at its facilities and “is committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace.”

Jennifer McRae