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Schiemer Farms Settles Harassment, Retaliation Suit

PENDLETON, Ore. -- Schiemer Farms of Nyssa, Ore., will pay $14,500  to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal  Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC charged that management at the farm  permitted the sexual harassment of two female farmworkers by one of its male  employees, and then unlawfully retaliated against the harasser's victims when  they complained.

According to the EEOC’s suit, a  driver for the farm sexually harassed Theresa Arias and Rebecca Jones on their  first day at work when he made vulgar remarks, provided lewd details about his  sexual life and rubbed his groin against one of the women. Arias and Jones both reported his conduct to  farm management and asked that it stop immediately. The EEOC’s suit alleged that the following  day when they arrived to work, Schiemer management told them, "You girls  can go home, we don't need any more trouble."

Sexual harassment, and firing employees  who speak out against it, are violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act  of 1964. This suit (EEOC v. Schiemer Farms 3:08-CV-114; U.S. District Court for the  District of Oregon) was filed after a neutral investigation by EEOC  investigator Meiju Ong and after first attempting to reach voluntary settlement  out of court.

As part of  the settlement, Schiemer Farms agreed to pay Arias and Jones $14,500, and the  company will review its policies on harassment, discrimination and retaliation;  train managers and supervisors about discrimination prohibited by law; and  voluntarily provide information to the EEOC concerning its handling of Title  VII-related complaints.

“On their first day at work, these  women faced outright sexual harassment by a co-worker, and they had the courage  to report the problem to management right away,” noted EEOC Seattle Field  Office Director A. Luis Lucero, Jr. “I  hope the positive results from this settlement will encourage other workers,  especially new hires who may feel uncertain about asserting their rights while  on probation. No one should have to  endure harassment as a condition of employment.”

“Employers should encourage workers  to speak out about sexual harassment, not fire them for doing so,” said EEOC  Regional Attorney William Tamayo. “We  look forward to working with Schiemer Farms to improve its response to this  type of situation in the future.”

The EEOC enforces federal  laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is  available on its web site at