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More than 200 women claim sex discrimination at New York Mills Lund boat plant

Sam Benshoof/FOCUS Lund Boats recently announced an expansion of 22,000 square feet to its manufacturing facility.

The Lund Boat Co., owned by Brunswick Corp., is pictured in this undated photo in New York Mills, Minn. Forum Communications Co.

NEW YORK MILLS, Minn. - The U.S. Department of Labor filed a lawsuit against a Lund boat plant here Thursday over the alleged sexual discrimination of more than 200 women.

The lawsuit, filed by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, claims Lund carried out the discrimination by not hiring more than 200 women who applied for entry-level positions at the manufacturing plant, according to a U.S. Department of Labor news release.

"Representatives from Lund have argued that women were less likely to be hired than men because of a preference for workers with manufacturing experience," Solicitor of Labor M. Patricia Smith said in a news release.

However, Smith said in the release the federal labor investigators found that even women who had manufacturing experience were less likely to be hired than men without it.

"That's not fair. It's not right. And it's against the law," Smith said.

The Department of Labor points to Executive Order 11246, which states that federal contractors are required to ensure that qualified job applicants receive equal consideration for employment without regard to their sex.

The complaint asks that Lund and corporate parent Brunswick Corp. be banned from entering into government contracts until the situation is remedied. Brunswick of Lake Forest, Ill., has had federal defense and homeland security contracts of almost $23 million in the last two years.

The lawsuit also seeks financial compensation for the women to make up for lost wages, interest and benefits. It requests the company offer positions to at least 27 of the women who had applied.

A message left with Brunswick was not immediately returned Thursday.

The company has 20 calendar days in which to respond to the complaint.

Trisha Marczak and Marie Nitke write for the East Otter Tail Focus