Compare Foods Hit With Lawsuit

Mike Drummond, Charlotte Observer, Aug. 3, 2006

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a federal discrimination complaint against grocer Compare Foods on Thursday, accusing the company of firing meat workers because they were not Hispanic.

The EEOC claims that in 2004, Compare fired three long-time employees—two of whom are black and one white—at its North Tryon Street store and replaced them with Hispanic workers.

In one instance, according to the complaint, store management made conditions “so intolerable” that the employee felt compelled to quit.

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The Tryon Street store caters heavily to Latino customers. Central and South American flags fly above the front of the store, and customers are greeted with Hispanic music. Inside, shelves are lined with Chorizo sausage, canned coconut-lime drinks and other local and imported Latin American staples—in addition to Asian and African items.

Compare Foods founder Eligio Peña opened the company’s first store in 1989 in Freeport, N.Y., according to its Web site.

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