$120,000 Compensation Fund Established to Compensate Sexual Harassment Victims at County Fair Farm, Training Ordered

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Question:  Would sexual harassment training have prevented this case?  See our trainings at http://www.hrclassroom.com.

The federal district court in Portland, Maine has approved a consent decree resolving discrimination litigation brought by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against County Fair Farm.

The four-year consent decree settling the suit provides for ongoing monitoring of County Fair Farm by EEOC. As part of the resolution, the farm has agreed to enact, for the first time, policies and procedures to prevent sexual harassment and retaliation. The decree also requires the farm to post anti-discrimination notices in English and Spanish and to provide training to employees to prevent sexual harassment and ensure workers are aware of their right to work in an environment free from unlawful discrimination in the future. In addition, County Fair Farm has agreed that it will no longer employ the alleged perpetrators of the sexual harassment. The consent decree also provides for the establishment of a $120,000 fund to compensate harassment victims identified by EEOC.

According to EEOC's suit, County Fair Farm violated federal law by creating and maintaining a sexually hostile work environment for female farmworkers since 2003. EEOC said the harassment included groping, explicit sex-related comments, and repeated requests for sexual favors. When one victim rejected the sexual advances, she was subject to increased harassment, including threats of violence. Complaints to the farm's owners were ignored, EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In October 2014, EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maine (EEOC v. County Fair Farm, Case No. 2014-cv-00415), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

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