EEOC files sex discrimination lawsuit against Performance Food Group

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer | 6/18/2013

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against Performance Food Group Inc. and its subsidiaries, alleging it used discriminatory practices to block women from being hired for certain positions within the company.

The EEOC lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Md., alleges that PFG’s Broadline warehouse facilities around the country discriminated against female applicants by denying them employment in various warehouse positions, including drivers, driver trainees, yard jockeys, forklift operators, fuelers, etc.

According to court documents, one female applicant applied for a driver position at PFG’s Temple, Texas, facility but was told she should not even bother applying there because the company “would not hire female drivers” because they did not “feel females could manage their own freight.”

The lawsuit was brought against PFG after a complaint was filed with the EEOC. A female employee was turned down for a position as a night warehouse training supervisor. The employee, recommended for the job by her manager there, had graduated with a four-year degree and had worked at UPS as a training supervisor prior to taking a job at PFG. When the application of Julie Lawrence was presented to PFG’s Corporate Vice President of Operations Dan Pekscamp, the lawsuit alleges he told Lawrence’s manager, “I am not interested in seeing anything from a woman.”

Instead, a male candidate was hired for the night warehouse position He lacked Lawrence’s four-year degree and experience, according to the complaint.

During the course of the investigation into Lawrence’s complaint, the EEOC “uncovered information which supported a charge of nationwide sex-based hiring discrimination by (Performance Food),” the suit states, “The practice includes an ongoing pattern or practice of failing to hire a class of female applicants for operative positions based on their sex (female).

During an operational meeting in 2005 or 2006, Pekscamp allegedly informed managers that from his observation and experience, “Women cannot do warehouse work.” He also questioned “why we would waste our time bringing in females,” the EEOC complaint states.

In 2010, the court ordered PFG to produce hiring data for employees and applicants within its Broadline division over which Pekscamp and/or regional vice president of operations maintained ultimate control.

According to court documents, “a review and analysis of the applicant and hiring data produced by (PFG) revealed a statistically significant shortfall of female operatives.”

The EEOC complaint seeks permanent injunction enjoining PFG and its employees from denying employment and promotions of female applicants because of their sex as well as ordering the company and its subsidiaries to “carry out policies, practice and programs which provide equal employment opportunities for females.”

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