ST. LOUIS – Kraft Heinz Food Company LLC is being sued in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri by a former employee who alleges racial discrimination at its Kirksville, Missouri processing plant.
The complaint by Eric Kenner of Laplace, Louisiana, against Kraft Heinz Food Company and Allied Reliability Group, which coordinated staffing of the food processing plant, was filed May 9.
Kenner, an African-American man who was employed as a forklift driver and line operator, began working at the plant in July 2017. Among Kenner’s claims is that his line supervisor “intentionally assigned” him “undesirable jobs, criticized him in front of other workers, and repeatedly referred to him as “boy.” Kenner reportedly tried to ignore the harassment, but it continued.
He then made several complaints to Kraft and Allied supervisors, saying the line supervisor “was behaving in a racist manner, treating him and other African Americans worse than Caucasian workers.” In response, Kenner claims the defendants reassigned him and another African-American coworker from the line supervisor’s direct supervision. They were reportedly sent to the Kraft warehouse to drive a forklift.
For his first day working in the warehouse, Kenner reported to the processing plant to wait for his new supervisor. But the line supervisor told Kenner he had to work with him to train his employees. Kenner stayed to help train that day, but when asked to do it again the following day, he told the line supervisor he’d like to speak to human resources before going with him.
The line supervisor reportedly became angry, called Kenner a derogatory name for African Americans and said “no one leaves this crew without paying a price.” The supervisor escorted Kenner outside, the complaint said.
Kenner walked home and returned to the plant later that morning, but was told he was terminated. The complaint alleges that the defendants discriminated against Kenner “because of race and retaliated against him for complaining about the discrimination, in violation of Title VII to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He is being represented by Jase Carter of the Carter Law Firm LLC in St. Louis.