Wilcox Farms Settles EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Suit for $260,000 and Agreed to Train Employees

 
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
 
Wilcox Farms, which operates dairy and egg production facilities in Oregon and Washington, will pay $260,000 and provide remedial relief to settle a federal sexual harassment and retaliation suit.

The EEOC's lawsuit charged that a male supervisor repeatedly grabbed, sought to forcibly undress and propositioned Wilcox Farms employee Diana Dominguez at its Aurora, Ore., facility. According to the federal agency's investigation, the harassment continued over many months despite Dominguez's complaints to management, to the point where she began to fear for her physical safety. The EEOC found that Wilcox retaliated against Dominguez for reporting the harassment by isolating her from co-workers, forcing her to continue to work with the harasser and pressuring her to resign. Dominguez ultimately was forced to quit out of fear for her safety.

Sexual harassment and retaliation violate Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. After an investigation conducted by EEOC investigator Annalie Greer and after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement, the EEOC filed suit on October 9, 2008 (EEOC v. Wilcox Farms, Inc., Wilcox Dairy Farms, LLC and Wilcox Farm Services, LLC, No. 08-CV-1141-MO) in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. Represented by the Oregon Law Center and Legal Aid Services of Oregon, Dominguez intervened in the EEOC lawsuit to add claims under state law.

Under the terms of the consent decree settling the suit, Wilcox Farms denied any wrongdoing but will pay Dominguez $260,000. The company also agreed to adopt and to distribute to all employees a sexual harassment policy written in both English and Spanish; make its complaint procedures more convenient for employees to report harassment and retaliation; conduct sexual harassment training in English and Spanish for all managers, supervisors and employees; and to provide various reports to the EEOC over a three-year period.
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