A California based dried fruits company will pay $330,000 to four Latina female farm laborers in settlement of a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. According to the lawsuit filed by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of the workers, the four workers were sexually harassed by two supervisors of Zoria Farms since 2007.
Farm laborers are vulnerable to sexual harassment because they do know English, are unskilled
As per the EEOC, the four Latina female workers were subjected to leering, sexual innuendos, requests for dates, and physical acts. Despite reporting the matter, the company failed to take corrective action as required by federal law. Their sexual harassment attorneys state that the workers were not rehired after the company, Zoria Farms, was sold to Z Foods.
Regional attorney for the EEOC Anna Park said that it is essential for the agricultural industry to realize that its workforce is vulnerable to sexual harassment and must make every effort to protect workers. In addition to the monetary compensation in the decree signed this week, the company will also change policies on sexual harassment and include a centralized tracking system to deal with complaints.
EEOC claims success in several cases
As reported by Thinkprogress.org, it is not clear if the workers that have been compensated were immigrant workers. However, the EEOC has had a number of sexual harassment cases settled by employers who have been made to pay. Oregon based Schiemer Farms had paid $14,500 to two female farm laborers who were fired for complaining about being sexually harassed on their first day at work.
Another Oregon based firm, Wilcox Farms, was also made to pay $260,000 as settlement in sexual harassment case. Othello, Washington based Frenchman Hills Vineyard had to cough up $33,000 after a Latina worker had been sexually assaulted by a manager while California based Harris Farms was ordered to pay $1,000,000 by a jury after a farm worker was raped by a supervisor on multiple occasions.
According to sexual harassment attorneys, four Latino workers received $150,000 from Willamette Tree Wholesale, Inc. following repeated sexual assaults on two sisters in 2011. The Center for Investigative Reporting said that 14 workers employed with Evans Fruit Company in Washington testified that they were sexually harassed by a foreman. For the most part, the number of sexual harassment cases in the agriculture industry is alarming to say the least. 1,106 complaints were filed with the EEOC between 1998 and 2013.
Just because someone does not have any skills nor speaks the language does not mean they should be mistreated. If you know anyone who has been sexually harassed, USAttorneys.com is a site they should know about. There are fantastic sexually harassment attorneys on this site ready to correct sloppy behavior.
Sexual harassment a major concern
The Center for Investigative Reporting reveals that these complaints range from verbal harassment to rape with supervisors being the major offenders in many cases. 41 cases have resulted in lawsuits filed by the federal commission. As many as 150 farm workers were sexually harassment. What is even more shocking is that 80% of workers who complained to their higher ups were either subjected to further abuse or sacked.
The only silver lining is California’s efforts to enact a law last year that mandates all agricultural employers impart sexual harassment training to its farm supervisors every two years. The law extends to everyone company even with less than 50 employees. In case of any breach of the law, the state has the authority to revoke the contractor’s license.