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Feds hit Twin Cities food service provider with $400K bill for paying women less than men

October 24, 2018 GMT

Federal investigators have ordered a Twin Cities food service provider to pay nearly $400,000 in back wages and interest to 98 female employees who were paid less than their male counterparts at the company’s Roseville facility.

A’viands Food Service Management denied the allegations but agreed to the payments and other terms in a settlement with the U.S. Labor Department following a routine compliance evaluation given to companies under contract with the federal government.

Along with making financial amends, more than $353,000 in back pay and nearly $46,000 in interest, A’viands has agreed to review and monitor its employee compensation practices and “remedy any statistically compensation disparities” as necessary, the settlement agreement reads.

“Federal contractors must ensure their pay practices do not discriminate,” Acting Regional Director Carmen Navarro of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs in Chicago said in a statement. “The U.S. Department of Labor remains committed to holding companies with federal contracts accountable in ensuring equal employment opportunity at their facilities.”

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Investigators reviewed company records, interviewed front office personnel, other employees and considered “anecdotal evidence” and found that pay discrepancies were “based on sex and not based on legitimate explanatory factors,” the agreement read, adding that the violations date back to 2011.

Company officials were not immediately available Wednesday to comment about the settlement.

It is illegal for contractors and subcontractors doing business with the federal government to discriminate in employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran.

A’viands’ website promotes itself as an equal opportunity employer, adding, “ that “we value and respect each other’s skills, ideas and differences.”

The company was founded in 2003 and expanded its reach through various business deals. It now provides services to more than 275 locations around the country and employs roughly 2,400 people. Its clients include businesses, colleges, healthcare facilities, prisons and public school districts.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482