Press Release 05-16-2012

Mid Valley Labor Services Settles EEOC Sexual Harassment Suit

Agency Obtains $150,000 On Behalf  of Latina Vineyard Workers

SAN FRANCISCO – Mid Valley Labor Services, Inc., a  statewide farm labor contractor with hundreds of employees, will pay $150,000  to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal  Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According  to the EEOC's lawsuit, female employees working in grape vineyards in Sonoma  and Mendocino Counties faced sexually explicit language and propositions by  their male crew supervisor. The EEOC further  charged that two women who objected to the harassment were fired.

Sexual  harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil  Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed the  lawsuit (Civil No. CV-10-2560 JCS) in U.S. District Court for the Northern  District of California after an investigation by EEOC Investigator Margarita  Hossaini-Zadeh and first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through  conciliation.

Under  the provisions of the consent decree settling the suit, Mid Valley agreed to  pay workers $150,000 in damages. The  company will also provide yearly sexual harassment training of its employees by  an outside consultant; revise its sexual harassment policy and complaint  procedure; assure supervisor accountability for preventing sexual harassment  and retaliation; and regularly report to the EEOC regarding harassment  complaints.

"The  agricultural industry, with a largely immigrant workforce, employs many women  who are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment," said EEOC Regional  Attorney William R. Tamayo. "The  requirements of this consent decree should serve as an example and encourage  other employers to be proactive in preventing sexual harassment before they have a problem."

EEOC  San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado added, "This case was  referred to us by the Mexican Consulate.  The EEOC will definitely continue to partner with community resources  and organizations to fight harassment and discrimination, and to assure that  workers report problems without fearing retaliation."

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