Federal Agency Charged Kovacevich 5 Farms Refused to Hire Female Farmworkers
FRESNO, Calif. – Kovacevich 5 Farms, a Tulare County grower of table grapes, has agreed to pay $1,680,000 to settle a federal lawsuit alleging that the company refused to hire women, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
After investigating charges filed by six female job applicants turned away by the Kovacevich 5 Farms, the EEOC found that the grower hired zero women between 1998 and 2002 despite filling approximately 300 seasonal farm work positions every year.
Discriminatory hiring based on gender is a violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. After first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement, on February 6, 2006, the EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Kovacevich 5 Farms, Civil Action No. 06-00165 OWW TAG) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, on behalf of a class of female farmworkers denied employment at Kovacevich 5 Farms. The six women joined the EEOC's federal suit alleging state law claims, and were represented by the Law Offices of Marcos Camacho of Bakersfield and R. Tomás Olmos of Allred, Maroko & Goldberg of Los Angeles.
In a consent decree filed this week, Kovacevich 5 Farms denied any wrongdoing but agreed to pay $1,680,000 and furnish relief to prevent future discrimination. It will also post a notice about the lawsuit at its facility, set goals and timetables for the hiring of women for the next five years, train all supervisors and employees regarding federal equal employment laws, and distribute its anti-discrimination policy in both English and Spanish to all employees.
The settlement amount will be distributed to women who were turned away from applying to work at Kovacevich 5 Farms, or did not apply to work there because they knew that the employer only hired men. Women who wish to be considered should contact EEOC staffer Maricela Medina at (408) 291-7354 to determine if they qualify to share in the settlement.
“We filed this lawsuit because everyone deserves the freedom to compete and advance in the workplace on a level playing field,” said EEOC Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo. “We are pleased that Kovacevich 5 Farms will implement a process to ensure hiring based on qualifications, and not gender. This settlement allows these women to move on with their lives.”
EEOC’s San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado noted, “Agriculture is California’s second largest industry, after high tech, and we have received many charges of blatant discrimination in this sector. We also have found that immigrant workers often may not be familiar with their rights and face obstacles such as language access. We hope this settlement will encourage all workers to step forward and contact the EEOC to learn more about their rights.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on December 3, 2008.
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