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EEOC Sues for Farmworkers' Rights--Files Three Sexual Harassment Lawsuits in One Week

October 6, 2012

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the commission responsible for enforcing federals laws that prohibit employment discrimination, has recently exemplified the commission's ongoing commitment to protecting vulnerable workers in agricultural industries, by filing three different lawsuits in one week on behalf of farmworkers--all alleging sexual harassment and abuse by their employers.

According to the EEOC announcement, that Santa Ana, California labor and employment attorney Vincent Howard has been closely following, farmworkers are particularly vulnerable because of their isolated and remote working conditions, and the workers' lack of understanding about their labor and employment protections under law.

In one sexual harassment lawsuit against Roy Farms, the EEOC accused a male supervisor of threatening and harassing male workers with sexual comments and touching, and reportedly forcing the men to endure inappropriate behavior. When a worker reported harassment, the hostile working conditions were not remedied, and the worker quit his job because he feared for his safety.

In another lawsuit, River Point Farms, one of the largest growers of onions in the country, was sued after a supervisor allegedly made sexual comments, and requested sexual favors from a female seasonal farmworker from 2005 until 2010. The supervisor also reportedly told the female worker that she was less than a man, and that her husband should be allowed to beat her. The supervisor then reportedly encouraged the woman's husband to kill her--which led to a murder attempt by her husband in the fall of 2010. After her husband's arrest, the supervisor blamed the female employee, and fired her.

The EEOC also filed a lawsuit against National Food Corporation, a major U.S. egg supplier, for permitting a supervisor to demand sex from a female employee, with the threat that if she did not engage in sexual relations with the supervisor, she would be fired. The victim reportedly worked by herself in an area that was isolated, with the harasser acting as the only supervisor on site.

According to the EEOC, the commission continues to see cases like these, involving vulnerable farmworkers who suffer sexual harassment and exploitation by their supervisors and management. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, one of the federal laws that the EEOC enforces, all workers are entitled to a workplace that is void of any discrimination or harassment based on sex. The EEOC stated that employers should think again if they think that vulnerable workers will not exercise their employment rights due to fear or lack of legal understanding.

In a related case that Vincent Howard discussed in a Riverside, California employment attorneys blog, Giumarra Vineyards recently settled a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit by paying $350,000. The settlement resolved the EEOC lawsuit, that was filed on behalf of a 17-year-old female migrant worker, who was reportedly forced to endure sexual harassment and verbal comments, as well as inappropriate sexual touching. The case was notable because the settlement forced the company to train the over 3,000 migrant workers on discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation in languages that they could understand, as well as managerial training on procedures for reporting and investigating sexual harassment and discrimination.

In Fountain Valley, Dana Point, and Fullerton, California, contact Vincent Howard and Howard Law, PC's dedicated labor and employment legal team today.

EEOC Sues to Redress Sexual Harassment of Vulnerable Farmworkers, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, October 5, 2012

America's Largest Onion Grower Sued by EEOC for Harassment and Retaliation, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, October 3, 2012

Related Web Resources:

California Department of Industrial Relations, (DIR)

Facts About Sexual Harassment, EEOC

Related Blog Posts:

California Vineyard Will Pay $350K to Settle Teenage Sexual Harassment, Retaliation Lawsuit, California Employment Lawyers Blog, July 5, 2012

Silicon Valley Firm Sued for Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination, California Employment Lawyers Blog, June 5, 2012

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Celebrity Chef Paula Deen Sued for Sexual Harassment and Racism in the Workplace, California Employment Lawyers Blog, March 9, 2012

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Female CFO Sues Proskauer Law Firm for Gender and Disability Discrimination, California Employment Lawyers Blog, October 8, 2011

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Hollywood Producer to Pay Former Assistant Over $3M in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit, California Employment Lawyers Blog, September 20, 2011

California Vineyard Accused of Teenage Sexual Harassment, California Employment Lawyers Blog, January 15, 2010

Casey Affleck Settles Hollywood Sexual Harassment Lawsuits, California Employment Lawyers Blog, September 20, 2010