Suit Says Santa Maria Agricultural Company Fired Woman for Reporting Lewd Conduct
LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced a lawsuit against Adam Brothers Farming, Inc. for sexually harassing and then firing an employee after she complained of sexual harassment. Adam Brothers is an agricultural company in Santa Maria, Calif., that harvests and cans vegetables in Santa Barbara County.
The EEOC's suit, Case No. CV09 06947, filed in the U.S District Court, Central District of California alleges that Yareli Uriostegui was subjected to a sexually hostile work environment and retaliated against after complaining about the harassment. According to the EEOC’s allegations, Uriostegui was placed under a foreman who immediately began sexually harassing her. The foreman touched her in a sexually suggestive manner and subjected her to verbal harassment, the EEOC said. After rejecting the foreman's sexual advances, the EEOC said, Adam Brothers wrote her up for poor performance and, within two weeks of complaining to management, Uriostegui was fired for allegedly having performance problems.
Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement. The EEOC will seek back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages and other injunctive relief.
“The EEOC and the courts have made it clear that an employer must give proper attention to an employee’s sexual harassment claims and prevent retaliation for exercising her rights under the law,” said Anna Y Park, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office. “As the law recognizes, employers are in position to prevent and correct a hostile work environment, and it is critical that they take their responsibility seriously to ensure that their workplace be free from discrimination.”
EEOC Los Angeles District Director Olophius E. Perry, said, "Terminating an employee for attempting to report a violation of the law is simply inexcusable, and the Commission will do everything within its power to protect employees from acts of retaliation."
The EEOC is the federal government agency responsible for enforcing the nation’s anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. More information about the Commission is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.