Racial Discrimination Claimed in Suit

Nov 05, 2003

By George Anderson

A former employee at a Nabisco Bakery in Philadelphia is suing Kraft Foods charging that she and other African-Americans were discriminated against in the workplace because of
their race.

A Crain’s Chicago Business article says the former employee, Debra Davis, alleges that between August 1997 and June 2002 she and other African-American workers were disciplined
more harshly than white employees guilty of similar offenses. Additionally, “white workers were ‘groomed’ for rapid advancement while black employees were denied such opportunities.”

“The lawsuit also accuses Kraft of racial profiling in a 2002 incident in which a white female employee alleged she had been assaulted at work in the women’s locker room,” reports
Crain’s. “Managers allegedly rounded up three African-American employees, including Ms. Davis, as the suspects and suspended them without pay. Kraft later discovered the
assault accusations were fabricated, according to the suit.”

Kraft declined to comment on the specifics of the suit until having had a chance to review the charges. An unidentified company spokesperson did tell Crain’s, “We believe
there was no discrimination in this case against any individual or purported class of individuals,” she said.

Moderator’s Comment: Have the diversity training programs in the retail industry and related businesses such as the CPG industry worked? Where do you
think improvements are needed most?

Breaking down barriers still has a long way to go.

Recently, shopping in a party goods chain store in an affluent town in New Jersey, we heard a plain-dressed customer who’s first language was clearly not
English ask an associate, a Caucasian, if the store would accept checks.

The answer came back, “Only if they’re good.”

After the customer assured the associate the check was good and handed it to him, he then asked, “You’re sure this is good, right?”

We wouldn’t swear that a similar conversation would not have taken place if the shopper spoke perfect English and was wearing an Armani suit, but somehow
we doubt it.
Anderson – Moderator

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