Civil Lawsuit Alleges Former JBS Employee Faced Constant Harassment From Coworkers

Aug 23, 2018

Earlier this week a civil lawsuit was filed against JBS USA and two officials at their meatpacking plant in Greeley. The suit alleges that a former employee, 37-year-old Kacem Andalib, faced racial and religious discrimination from his coworkers and that the company failed to intervene or prevent it.

Civil rights attorney Eudoxie Dickey, who goes by Dunia, filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Denver. It states that Andalib, a U.S. citizen and Muslim man originally from Morocco, spent nearly four years working at JBS in the human resources department. He worked with predominantly white and Latino coworkers.

The lawsuit alleges that Andalib’s coworker Anthony Rickoff, who is white, began harassing him in 2017. In one instance, according to Andalid, Rickoff said that firing Muslims was “doing his share to make America great again.”

The lawsuit details several instances when Andalib endured harassment from Rickoff, including a time when Andalib mentioned that the Trump administration’s ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries would be bad for the plant as many of its workers happen to be immigrants from these countries.

To this, he alleges Rickoff responded, “It’s all your fault, you freaking terrorists.”

According to Dickey, Andalib filed a formal complaint with JBS about the harassment but an investigation was never conducted. She says this type of negligence sends a message to other plant employees.

“That (…) it’s fair game to harass and discriminate and retaliate against Muslim and Arab and African employees and nothing is going to happen to you,” said Dickey.

Andalib believes Rickoff and his supervisor Rigio Mendiola, who is Latino, retaliated against him for speaking out about the harassment. For instance, he says Mendiola denied him access to software and a laptop for his work. Andalib also alleges that he was denied opportunities for professional training.

A college graduate with a 4.0 GPA and a degree in world food distribution from Prairie View A&M University in Texas, Andalib is also fluent in five languages -- an advantage considering the workforce at the Greeley plant speaks a total of 36 languages. Despite this, the suit alleges that Andalib was passed up for a promotion. Instead, it went to Rickoff, who speaks only English.

Finally, Andalib claims that he was fired under false pretenses. The plaintiff had never received a negative review or disciplinary write up. He believes that Rickoff and Mendiola conspired against him.

This is not the first lawsuit to be filed against the Greeley plant on the grounds of religious discrimination. In 2010 a federal lawsuit was filed accusing the plant of wide-scale religious discrimination, saying employers failed to grant Muslim employees breaks for their daily prayer. The decision on that case is still pending.

JBS officials did not return a request for comment on this story.