Palm Beach, FL– A Florida-based produce farm and packaging company was ordered to pay five former female worker over $17 million dollars to settle sexual harassment allegations.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced that Moreno Farms in Felda, Florida, will pay five former employees a total of $17,425,000 to settle their claims. A jury awarded the women $2,425,000 in compensatory damages and $15 million in punitive damages, according to the EEOC news release.
The EEOC suit alleged that the owner’s two sons and a supervisor for Moreno Farms subjected female farmworkers to sexual harassment and sexual assault. The Miami Herald reports that the three male supervisors would sometimes take the women to coolers and trailers where they would be subjected to a number of sexual abuses from groping to rape.
The EEOC news release says the three men would position the women for sex and when their advances were rebuffed they threatened the women with termination. The suit also states that the three men attempted to rape and raped numerous female employees.
One of women said Omar Moreno groped her buttocks and other body parts in view of other employees and repeatedly solicited her for sex. According to the Miami Herald, Omar Moreno took the woman to the coolers and trailers and had sex with her on at three occasions. She only relented the demands because she believed she would be fired.
The other women in the suit experienced similar behavior. All five women complained about the men’s behavior, but nothing was done to stop and the women were eventually fired.
Clearly, the jury felt as though the behavior these women were subjected to was particularly revolting since the majority of their damages were punitive. Large awards like this one don’t usually come from EEOC cases, such amounts are more common when a case is handled by an employment law attorneys.
EEOC General Counsel David Lopez said in the press release, “We are committed to ensuring that all immigrant and vulnerable populations are protected by the anti-discrimination laws, and this is the latest in a number of successful cases that we have litigated to stop these discriminatory practices.”
Female farm workers are often more vulnerable to sexual harassment, because the majority of them are immigrants, some of who have green cards and many who are undocumented. Either way, their jobs are very important to immigrants so they are often unwilling to stand up to their supervisors. They would rather put up with the daily abuse than speak up and possibly lose their jobs. Retaliation is a powerful way to silence someone and is typical of sexual harassment cases. It is also easier prove in court.
With judgments this large, then losing party often chooses to appeal the decision in the hope they can reduce the settlements they pay out. This is another reason why a victim of workplace abuse should retain a sexual harassment lawyer in Florida to assist them with their case. USAttorneys can help you find a sexual harassment attorney near your area to evaluate your case.