Broccoli Packer to Pay $48,000 and Make Changes to Prevent Future Harassment
SAN FRANCISCO — Hilltown Packing Company, a broccoli packer based in Salinas, Calif., will pay $48,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC’s suit asserted that Filomena Ruelas, who was also represented in the matter by California Rural Legal Assistance, and other women were sexually harassed by their supervisor and then retaliated against when they opposed the harassment. The suit was filed after a neutral investigation by EEOC investigators Yasmin Macariola-Wolohan and Juan Vaca and after first attempting to reach voluntary settlement out of court. Hilltown denied the allegations but agreed to resolve the case through a consent decree.
The decree, approved by the Honorable Judge Patricia V. Trumbull of U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California in San Jose (Civ. No. C-09-4647 PVT ), provides for $48,000 in damages, and requires that the company reissue its policy against sexual harassment in English and Spanish, provide training to all its employees, and submit regular reports to the EEOC if it receives any complaints of harassment or retaliation. Hilltown also agreed to include in its supervisor evaluations an assessment of their effectiveness in preventing sexual harassment and retaliation. The company has informed the EEOC that the supervisor accused of harassment is no longer employed with the company.
“Women in the agricultural industry are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment, especially immigrant women who may not be proficient in English and are unaware of their employment rights,” said EEOC Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo. “The EEOC appreciates Hilltown’s cooperation in reaching a settlement and agreeing to consent decree provisions which will help prevent harassment in the future.”
EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado added, “ The EEOC continues to receive charges of harassment and retaliation from agricultural workers. Through a program of outreach, education and litigation, the EEOC is committed to remedying that situation. The policy changes brought about by the consent decree settling this case further that goal.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.