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Protesters decry racial discrimination in hiring at Ferrara Candy

This week, protesters in the Chicago-area community of Forest Park reportedly decried racial discrimination against African Americans in hiring at Ferrara Candy.  Ferrara Candy makes candies such as Red Hots and Lemonheads.  The company and two staffing agencies it uses have been accused of discriminating against African American laborers in favor of Latino laborers.

There is a pending class action lawsuit against Ferrara and these two staffing agencies.  A federal judge rebuffed the companies’ motion to dismiss the class action lawsuit this past July.  The plaintiffs in that class action have alleged that the vast majority of laborers sent to work at Ferrara from the two staffing agencies at issue were Latino.  The plaintiffs believe that Ferrara instructed the staffing companies to send them only Latino laborers to work in the Ferrara factory.  This would explain why, according to the plaintiffs, the staffing agencies recruit laborers primarily through Spanish-language media; and one of the staffing agencies conducts employee orientations in Spanish.  Some Latino witnesses have also stated that where they work at Ferrara all of the employees are Latino.

“Ferrara Candy makes millions of dollars, particularly in the Halloween season, on the folks in this community.  We want them to ensure the people who make their candy in this community are the folks that actually live in this community,” said Elce Redmond, organizer with the South Austin Coalition Community Council. About 32% of the population of Forest Park is African American.

The protesters wanted to set up a meeting with Ferrara’s CEO, Todd Siwak.  It is unclear if such a meeting will take place but company officials did agree to provide the CEO with a letter from the protesters.