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.