Seattle, WA- Last week, a Washington-based hop grower, one of the largest in the world, agreed to pay $85,000 to settle a same-sex sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The EEOC lawsuit alleges for a two year period male farm employees were subjected to unwanted comments and touching by one of their male supervisors at the Eastern Washington state farm. According to the EEOC, the harassing male supervisors threatened male employees and would tell them in “vulgar” terms that he wanted to have sex with them. In some instances, the supervisor would touch the buttocks, backs and faces of his subordinate employees.

Orchard employee, Martin Barrera, one of the men affected went to his supervisors at Roy Farms to complain about the harassment. None of his supervisors took action to stop the harassment or reprimand the harassing employee despite the complaints. Barrera eventually quit his job, and filed a complaint with the EEOC. He also in retained a private sexual harassment attorney to help with his lawsuit.

The EEOC investigated Barrera’s claims and after confirming the allegations filed a formal sexual harassment lawsuit. The EEOC attempted to settle allegations through conciliatory process.

In addition to paying $85,000 to settle the allegations, Roy farms will be required to issue EEOC policies in English and Spanish for all of its employees in eastern Washington. Roy Farms will be required to institute new policies to ensure their reporting procedures are accessible and all managers receive sexual harassment training, according to the EEOC new release. The grower will be required report any sexual harassment complaints to the EEOC directly for the next three years.

This is among the many sexual harassment cases arising out of the U.S. agriculture industry. While the majority of cases which have been widely publicized involve female farm workers, this case shows that men in agriculture are in similar vulnerable position. The majority of agricultural workers in the U.S. are immigrants, both documented and undocumented. In many cases, victims of sexual harassment in the agriculture industry are reluctant to come forward because they worry their immigration status will be adversely affected. Sometimes employers threaten to reveal an immigrant’s undocumented status or refuse to sponsor them for temporary work visas if they file formal complaints.

On top of being immigrants, the victims in this case were also men, making it even more challenging for them to come forward with formal sexual harassment complaints. While women still make up the majority of sexual harassment lawsuits, men are increasingly subjected to this inappropriate behavior and are more willing to file a formal complaint.

Any victim of sexual harassment, male or female, should never feel like they should simply tolerate this type of sexual misconduct. Harassment is not something people have to live with and they can take steps to eliminate it from their lives. A sexual harassment attorney will make it possible for the victim to cease their abuse and seek compensation for their emotional suffering and loss of wages.