$75,000 Settlement in National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit Against Vineyards, Training Ordered

Friday, October 12, 2012

Question:  Would national origin discrimination training have prevented this case?  See our trainings at http://www.hrclassroom.com.

Ukiah winery Dunnewood Vineyard, owned by Constellation Wines U.S., Inc., agreed to pay $75,000 and to implement preventative measures to settle a lawsuit for national origin harassment brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  

The EEOC's suit asserts that a Mexican-American supervisor at Dunnewood Vineyard regularly harassed winery worker Julio Perez-Lombera and other Mexican-born co-workers, calling them "wetbacks" and "beaners" and telling them to go back to Mexico when they complained about the illegal harassment.  Although the supervisor was also Latino, he was born in the U.S. while the workers he harassed were born in Mexico.  

"Until this case, we didn't realize we had rights, or that there are laws to stop that kind of treatment," said Perez-Lombera. "I hope other people facing harassment on the job will realize they have rights, too, and will talk to the EEOC like I did."

Harassment based on national origin violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  After an investigation by EEOC Investigator Malihe Kigasari and first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through conciliation, the EEOC filed its lawsuit  (EEOC v. Constellation Wines U.S., Inc., dba Dunnewood Vineyards, Civil No. 11-04437 JSW) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

As part of the settlement, Constellation Wines will pay $75,000 to three workers and agreed to conduct training against national origin harassment for all the employees at Dunnewood Vineyards.  The company will also provide copies of its anti-harassment training in both English and Spanish to the employees. 

Dunnewood Vineyards is owned and operated by Constellation Wines U.S., Inc., based in Victor, N.Y., and is part of one of the world's largest wine and alcohol beverage companies.

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