BOISE — A second former Chobani employee has accused the company age discrimination.
Virginia Tucker, who worked as a maintenance technician at the Twin Falls yogurt plant from January 2013 until she was fired in June 2015, filed a suit in federal court on Monday.
Tucker was let go on the same day as Jerry Ash, a former maintenance supervisor who sued claiming age discrimination a month ago. Ash’s case is still pending. The suit says she was older than 60 when she was fired, was the second-oldest employee in the maintenance department and that Chobani fired about eight other employees older than 45 around the same time. The suit says Tucker was discriminated against because of her age and gender.
The suit says that Tucker’s younger, male supervisor said in supervisor meetings that she should get negative performance ratings because he believed she was was a threat to the company, that he didn’t like her and that he thought she should be fired before she sued the company.
It also recounts a time when a younger male supervisor made a derogatory comment to her, and it says her young male supervisors pulled an unspecified humiliating prank against her in a crowded lunch room and laughed at her in front of others.
The suit says Tucker filed a discrimination charge with the Idaho Human Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and was fired the next day. The company said the reason she was fired was she didn’t perform the proper lock-out tag-out procedure while working on a piece of equipment. Tucker’s suit says the company didn’t follow the procedures in its employee handbook in firing her, and that a state Department of Labor investigation found she didn’t violate any company procedures. It says Chobani replaced her with a younger, less experienced man.
The Human Rights Commission and EEOC both dismissed her complaints. Chobani spokesman Michael Gonda said the company also investigated and found no discrimination.
“We’re a company founded on inclusion and diversity and have built a rich history of promoting a welcoming culture that doesn’t discriminate in any form and does not tolerate discrimination in any form,” he said in an email. “To protect the privacy of our teams, we do not comment on matters related to specific employees, current or former, however we take matters like this seriously. When matters such as this are brought to our attention, we conduct an extensive investigation to ensure adherence to our policy, safety standards and founding beliefs.”
Tucker is seeking lost pay and benefits, damages and attorney’s and court fees.