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 www.eeoc.gov.