The federal government has accused Alliant Techsystems Inc. of racial discrimination for alledgedly refusing to hire an African-American woman for a technical support job at its offices in Edina.

The suit filed Wednesday by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), says that although a recruiter initially told Tyeastia Green she had gotten the job, the company rejected her and hired a white male instead.

The EEOC complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Minnesota contends that the reasons given by the company for its decision were pretext for race discrimination.

Alliant Thursday declined to comment on specifics of the suit but in a statement said it is proud of its track record in equal opportunity employment. The defense and aerospace company is the world's largest manufacturer of military ammunition, and about 70 percent of its $4.8 billion in sales comes from the U.S. government. It recently announced plans to relocate its headquarters to the Washington, D.C. area.

According to the suit, Green applied and was interviewed several times for the job in May 2007. After the first interview, the recruiter advised her to take out her braids to appear more professional. She did so and was later told by the recruiter that Alliant wanted to hire her and that she would be contacted by the company's Human Resources Department.

The recruiter later told Green she also needed to meet with Alliant's information technology director. By the time she met with him, Green had put her braids back in. The day after that meeting Green was notified that she would not be hired. In June 2007 the company hired a white male for the job.

"[Alliant] allegedly did not think that Tyeastia Green fit its image of an IT person," said John Hendrickson, regional attorney for the Chicago district of the EEOC. "Unfortunately, this concern for 'image' has brought it to federal court."

The EEOC said it filed suit after failing to reach a pre-litigation settlement with Alliant. The suit seeks unspecified back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for Green and a court order to prevent the company from discriminating in the future.

Susan Feyder • 612-673-1723