Carmel, CA- A new bill aimed at protecting California agriculture workers from sexual harassment and assault has passed he state legislature and is headed to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for his signature.
It is likely Gov. Brown will sign the legislation, which amends the state’s Farm Labor Contractor Act to make sexual harassment training for all supervisors and non-supervisory agricultural workers in the state at the time of their hire, and once every two years, KION News Channel 5 reported.
It also give more authority to the state’s labor commissioner to pursue legal action against sexual predators.
The legislation was spurred on by report from the Center for Investigative Reporting into the incidents of sexual harassment Although CIR said it’s hard to pinpoint how many female farm workers are sexually harassed, assaulted or raped each year, they uncovered a “pattern of supervisors accused of preying on multiple workers.” A 2012 Human Rights Watch survey of 160 female farm workers found that majority of respondents experienced sexual harassment of assault or knew someone who had.
According to CIR, there are approximately 560,000 women working on farms across the country. These farms typically hire immigrants, many of whom are undocumented, because they are willing to do the back-breaking work for long hours at low wages.
Supervisors are often able to get away with harassment and assault by buying the silence of their victims. They do this by threating to fire them or have them deported if they file a formal complaint.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 gives immigrants protection from sexual harassment in spite of their immigration status. But when it comes to getting justice, immigrants enter muddy legal waters.
Title VII offers protects all workers from discrimination and harassment, regardless of their race, gender, nationality or legal status. Migrant farm workers have the right to report their supervisor and to expect their employers will take the appropriate action. However, many are afraid to come forward because they are afraid their status will be discovered and they be thrust into lengthy immigration proceeds or be deported. These workers also face retaliation for coming forward.
Although sexual harassment attorneys can shield their clients from having their immigration status brought up in court proceeding or settlement negotiations.
Immigration status is not a barrier to filing a workplace discrimination complaint, but it is a barrier to the type of compensation they can pursue. In Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB, the U.S. Supreme Court established that undocumented immigrants could not seek compensation for retaliation or lost wages in workplace discrimination cases. That decision is based was based on the Immigration and Reform Control Act of 1986, the law which made it unlawful for an employer to hire an immigrant without legal status.
In most instances of sexual harassment, the victims just want the harassment to stop, obtaining compensation is not their primary goal. But if they are the victim of sexual harassment, they can suffer financially and emotionally and they deserve to be compensated.
If you are the victim of workplace harassment or have been retaliated against, a sexual harassment attorney will devote their time and energy to your case, assuring you get the justice you deserve.