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PRESS RELEASE
6-5-12

Quality Egg Settles Sexual Harassment Suit with EEOC

DeCoster  Operation Will Pay $85,000 to Compensate Victims

SIOUX  CITY, Iowa – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced  today that a federal judge has approved a consent decree settling its sexual  harassment lawsuit against Galt, Iowa-based Quality Egg, LLC.  (EEOC v.  Quality Egg, LLC, Civil Action No. 3:11-cv-03071-MWB).

According  to the EEOC’s suit, Quality Egg, LLC, a now-defunct egg producer owned and  operated by the Austin “Jack” DeCoster Revocable Trust, violated federal civil  rights laws by permitting a former manager at its Galt, Iowa egg packing  facility to sexually harass at least two female former employees.  The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for  the Northern District of Iowa after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation  settlement through its conciliation process.

“No  one should ever have to endure the abuse that these workers did just to try to  make a living,”  said EEOC Chicago  District Director John Rowe.  “It’s  uncivilized and unlawful, and the EEOC will never flag in combating such  misconduct.”

The  EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago, John Hendrickson, added, “When employees  complain about harassment, a smart company will take proactive steps to stop  the harassment.  In this case, Quality  Egg failed to take advantage of the early warning signs and sexual harassment  was permitted to continue.  The EEOC will  take appropriate action to protect workers from egregious sexual harassment if  an employer fails to do so.” 

The  EEOC settlement was reached after Quality Egg confirmed that it no longer  employed any workers in its egg processing operations and agreed to pay  damages.   Under the terms of the two-year consent decree  entered by the court, Quality Egg must pay $85,000 to two former employees who  were subjected to egregious sexual harassment at the hands of Quality Egg  supervisors.

Quality  Egg, LLC, is one of several entities owned and operated by the Austin J.  DeCoster Revocable Trust in Galt, Iowa.   The EEOC previously sued a DeCoster operation at the same location and  Austin “Jack” DeCoster in his individual capacity in 2002.  That lawsuit, EEOC v. Austin J. DeCoster d/b/a DeCoster Farms of Iowa and Iowa Ag,  LLC, Civil Action No. C02-3077 MWB (N.D. Iowa), involved allegations that  the defendants subjected undocumented female employees to a sexually hostile  working environment, including sexual assault and rape by supervisors.  The lawsuit resulted in a consent decree  providing $1,525,000 in damages.  The defendants were required to promulgate  policies in English and Spanish prohibiting retaliation and harassment based on  race, sex, and national origin.

The  EEOC’s litigation effort was lead by Associate Regional Attorney Jean Kamp and  Senior Trial Attorney Nicholas Pladson of the agency’s Minneapolis Area Office.

The EEOC's Chicago District  Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative  enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Minnesota, Illinois,  Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota, and operates Area Offices in  Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The  EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment  discrimination.  Further information is  available at www.eeoc.gov.