In a recent development, the right-wing not-for-profit organization America First Legal (AFL) has lodged a federal civil rights complaint against Kellogg’s, the renowned food company known for its breakfast cereals, Pringles, and Pop-Tarts. The complaint, filed with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on August 9, has sparked discussions about workplace bias and the intersection of corporate responsibility and political ideology.
AFL, co-founded by Gene Hamilton and Stephen Miller, former advisors to ex-President Donald Trump, alleges that Kellogg’s “hiring, training, and promotion practices are designed to achieve a balance based on race and sex that violates the federal law banning workplace bias.” The organization’s senior counsellor and director of oversight and investigations, Reed D. Rubinstein, asserts that Kellogg’s is adopting an “equity” approach in employment, which he views as a form of illegal discrimination.
One of the key points of contention in the complaint is Kellogg’s effort to achieve gender and racial diversity within its workforce. The organization criticizes Kellogg’s aspiration of reaching a 50/50 gender parity goal at the management level in its global operation by the end of 2025. AFL claims that these efforts, while aimed at inclusivity, actually amount to reverse discrimination, suggesting that the ethnic composition of upper-level positions appears “suspiciously engineered by race.”
The AFL’s allegations extend beyond hiring practices. The organization takes issue with what they perceive as Kellogg’s “politicization and sexualization” of its products. This includes condemning a limited-edition Cheez-It box featuring drag queen RuPaul, criticizing Tony the Tiger for appearing with a political figure at an event, and expressing concern about cereal box designs celebrating Pride month.
Kellogg’s, on the other hand, defends its practices and policies, stating that its aim is to “better reflect the diversity of our consumers and strengthen our inclusive culture.” The company emphasizes its commitment to compliance with employment laws and its policies that prohibit workplace discrimination.
The incident highlights the ongoing debate over how companies address diversity, equity, and inclusion in their workforce and product offerings. It also raises questions about whether such efforts are genuinely promoting equal opportunity or inadvertently leading to other forms of bias.
As the AFL complaint makes its way through the regulatory process, it remains to be seen how it will be received and whether it will have any lasting impact on Kellogg’s practices. The case underscores the larger societal conversation about the role of corporations in addressing social and political issues, and how these efforts are perceived by stakeholders with varying viewpoints.
In an era where businesses are increasingly scrutinized for their actions beyond the bottom line, the Kellogg’s case serves as a reminder that even seemingly routine business practices can become lightning rods for broader debates about values, politics, and social responsibility.