Press Release 04-10-2020

Sunridge Nurseries Settles Discrimination Lawsuit

Filipino Employees Subjected to Retaliation Federal Agency Alleged

FRESNO - Sunridge Nurseries, Inc., a grower in the grapevine nursery stock industry, has agreed to pay $237,500 to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. 

The EEOC's lawsuit alleged that Sunridge failed to re-hire a group of Filipino seasonal farm workers in retaliation for having complained about national origin/race discrimination. Some of these workers were long term employees.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. Sunridge Nurseries, Inc., et. al., Case No. 1:19-cv-01365-AWI-JLT) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to $237,500 in monetary relief that will go to a group of affected employees, the two -year consent decree settling the suit, which remains under the court's jurisdiction during the decree's term, includes injunctive relief aimed at preventing workplace discrimination and retaliation. Sunridge has agreed to review, and if necessary, revise its policies and procedures on discrim­ination and retaliation, and provide training to employees and managers on federal anti-discrimination laws with an emphasis on retaliation. Finally, Sunridge is required to submit reports to the EEOC and keep records necessary to demonstrate its compliance with this decree.       

"The EEOC commends Sunridge for its commitment to implementing comprehensive measures under the agreement," said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles District, whose juris­diction includes Kern County. "We hope other employers take Sunridge's example and implement comprehensive anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation policies."

Melissa Barrios, director of the EEOC's Fresno's local office, said, "Retaliation remains a persistent common problem which requires all employers to ensure accountability, training, and leadership to promote a workplace free of discrimination."

Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, gender, and people with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employ­ment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.  Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.