America First Legal Files Federal Civil Rights Complaint Against Kellogg’s; Warns Management That it is Violating Fiduciary Duties

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, America First Legal’s (AFL) Center For Legal Equality filed a federal civil rights complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against the Kellogg’s Company for engaging in illegal, race-based discrimination concerning employment and job training opportunities. 

AFL also sent a letter to Kellogg’s CEO and Board of Directors, warning them of their obligation to stop wasting the Company’s assets and breaching their fiduciary duty to its shareholders.

According to its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Kellogg’s operates in a highly competitive commercial environment and faces significant challenges in finding capable employees. Nevertheless, the evidence is that Kellogg’s hiring, training, and promotion policies and programs are infused with woke ideology. For example, Kellogg’s “‘Better Days’ Promise” specifies that by the end of 2025, it will achieve “25% racially underrepresented talent [sic] at the management level in the United States.” 

Kellogg’s promises that by the end of 2025, it will achieve an “aspirational gender parity goal [sic] of 50/50 at the management level” in its global operations. To that end, Kellogg’s has initiated a Leadership Development program only for women called “ASPIRE.”  

Between 2020 and 2022, the percentage of racially underrepresented talent increased by almost exactly 2% across all position levels. Given Kellogg’s commitment to “diversifying” leadership, advancing people based on skin color at the expense of others because of their skin color merits investigation. 

The ethnic composition of individuals in positions defined as “All Managers & Above” especially appears suspiciously engineered about race. While the ethnicity breakdown varies slightly more within the positions of Directors and VPs, Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics each make up precisely 7% of the individuals who are managers or a higher position. Through 2022, Kellogg’s operated an “accelerated development program for Racially Underrepresented Talent [sic] at the management level.” 

Kellogg’s also has a “Chef in Residence” program – a “paid postgraduate fellow program for Black chefs to work with our Research and Development (R&D) team to help them better understand food’s role in Black communities worldwide.” Unlawfully, only Black or African American chefs are allowed, even if individuals with other immutable characteristics are otherwise qualified.

All of these race-based programs and apparent quotas are illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

Kellogg’s management has also shown disdain and disregard for company shareholders. It admits that its brand reputation requires careful promotion and protection.” Yet it fails to properly warn investors of the risks associated with the apparent misalignment of management’s political and social values with Kellogg’s customers’ values or describe the steps taken to mitigate them. Despite the immense trust that hard-working American mothers and fathers have placed in Kellogg’s, management has discarded the Company’s long-held family-friendly marketing approach to politicize and sexualize its products. For example, to target children:

  • Management ran the 2021 “Together with Pride” cereal promotion. This was a partnership with “GLAAD” – which describes itself as “the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization”, opposes parental rights to know about transgender “transitions” in public schools, and promotes censorship and cancel culture – and depicts beloved and iconic characters such as Tony the Tiger®, Toucan Sam®, and Snap™, Crackle™, and Pop™ cheering around a bowl of rainbow heart-shaped cereal and Mini™, the Frosted Mini Wheats® mascot, holding an LGBTQ flag. The top and left panels of the box provided a fill-in-the-blank space for consumers to fill in their own pronouns. 
  • In October 2022, management released a limited-edition cereal called “Rise and Kind” Froot Loops® in partnership with GLAAD, again using iconic Kellogg’s cereal characters to advance an extreme social agenda.

In September 2022, management released a limited-edition Cheez-It® boxes featuring drag queen RuPaul and Jersey Shore star “Snooki.” 

Also in 2022, the Company brand Pop-Tarts® released a limited-edition “NEON Pink Block Party Lemonade Pop-Tarts®.” The box illustrations depict cartoon drawings of individuals waving “Philadelphia’s People of Color Inclusive” flags and background rainbows of the same pattern.

In June 2023, Tony the Tiger® posed for photographers linking elbows with the controversial transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney at the 76th Annual Tony Awards in New York City. How Mulvaney is relevant to selling cereal is unclear. However, by this point, management knew or should have known that Mulvaney’s association with Bud Light had cost InBev shareholders billions of dollars and that there was a strong likelihood that using him as an avatar for Kellogg’s would drive away many of the Company’s core customers.

Kellogg’s is yet another big corporation that will break the law and hurt its shareholders’ interests to serve the twisted woke ideology of its officers and directors; like Disney, Budweiser, and Target, Kellogg’s management has shown nothing but contempt and disdain for American families and American workers. America First Legal will keep fighting for big corporate accountability.

Statement from America First Legal Senior Counselor and Director of Oversight and Investigations, Reed D. Rubinstein:

“For over a century, Kellogg’s was a trusted partner of moms and dads. That partnership, apparently, is over. Kellogg’s officers and directors are, of course, free to spend their own money on whatever social or political cause they deem fit. But this freedom does not extend to breaking the law or to spending the Company’s funds and eviscerating Kellogg’s brand equity and consumer goodwill to serve their extreme woke activism. Management has a fiduciary duty to promote and protect Kellogg’s business, not hijack it for leftist political ends.“ said Reed Rubinstein.

Read the EEOC letter here and the letter to the board here.

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Photo credit: Brent Hofacker/Adobe Stock Images

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