WILLMAR, Minn. — Jennie-O Turkey Store Inc. has agreed to hire 53 women and pay $491,861 in back wages to 339 female job applicants denied entry-level jobs at its Willmar turkey-processing facility.

The company’s action resolves a U.S. Department of Labor lawsuit alleging the global turkey products producer discriminated in its hiring practices.

A review by the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs found Jennie-O’s selection practices discriminated against qualified female applicants for laborer positions from February 2009 to February 2010 in violation of Executive Order 11246. The review prompted the department to file the suit and a consent decree simultaneously to resolve the issue. A judge in the Office of Administrative Law Judges has entered an order adopting the consent decree. The company did not admit liability.

OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu said, “Jennie-O has worked proactively with our agency to resolve the agency’s findings of discrimination and has agreed to train personnel involved in the selection process to ensure that non-discriminatory policies are carried out going forward.”

Based in Willmar, Jennie-O Turkey Store Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corp. The company has nearly 7,000 employees who produce more than 1,500 products distributed in more than 70 countries worldwide.

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