KANSAS CITY, Kan. (CN) – A woman claims in court that Hormel fired her after she implored it “come out of the dark ages” in its treatment of women.
Deborah Hoss sued Topeka-based Hormel Foods Sales, in Federal Court.
Most people know Hormel as the company that brought the world Spam.
Hoss, an administrative assistant, claims: “While employed, plaintiff became aware of Hormel’s self-acknowledged history of sexism in its workforce.
“Plaintiff also noticed the company’s male-dominated corporate atmosphere in contrast to the entirely female force of administrative assistants.”
Hoss claims Hormel fired her on April 8, 2011, hours after she completed a company survey designed to allow employees to voice concerns about working conditions.
Hoss says she cut and pasted her responses to the survey and emailed them to other administrative assistants.
The complaint states: “Specifically, in her email to other administrative assistants, and in her Kenexa survey response:
“Plaintiff voiced her opposition to the ‘Old Boy’s Club mentality’ that prevailed at Hormel, which included the ‘denigration and general atmosphere of disrespect for the administrative assistants/support staff,'” the complaint states.
“Plaintiff complained that administrative assistants were treated as ‘second class citizens.’
“Plaintiff complained about the ‘subtle and sadly pervasive’ lack of esteem for administrative assistants.
“Plaintiff complained about the “unmistakable segregation” that existed between administrative assistances and management, and compared the relationship to an ‘abusive relationship.’
“Plaintiff encouraged Hormel to ‘come out of the dark ages’ in its attitude toward its support workers.
“Plaintiff suggested that one of the first steps in correcting the unequal playing field was to provide sick days for administrative assistants.
“Plaintiff said she refused to ‘hide in the shadows of fear and intimidation’ any longer, and hoped that her message affected a positive change in the company.”
Just hours later, Hoss says, two of her supervisors called her into a meeting, where one boss slammed down a copy of the email she had sent and said he was furious about it.
Hoss says the boss told her the email was a “misuse of company resources” and fired her on the spot.
She seeks punitive damages for gender discrimination and retaliation.
She is represented by Lynne Jaben Bratcher, with Bratcher Gockel & Kingston, of Kansas City, Mo.
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