Knouse Foods Agrees to Pay $300,000 To Settle Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A major farm growers’ cooperative which owns the Musselman Company agreed to pay $300,000 to a class of women and furnish significant remedial relief to settle a federal harassment and retaliation lawsuit.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit against Knouse Foods, a class of female farmworkers was subjected to egregious sexual harassment by male coworkers at its processing plant in Gardners, Pa. The sexually hostile work environment included making lewd and unwanted sexual advances and sexually explicit remarks. The male coworkers also engaged in threatening behavior, such as using the forklift to chase women or blocking them with their bodies or a broom while they walked down the hall. In addition, the women were subjected to unlawful harassment and called derogatory names because of their Mexican national origin.

The EEOC further charged that Knouse Foods wrongfully disciplined or reassigned employees in reprisal for their complaints about the abusive treatment.

In addition to the $300,000 in monetary relief, the three-year consent decree includes injunctions against engaging in retaliation or harassment based on sex or national origin; mandatory anti-discrimination training of all employees at the Gardners facility; and supervisor accountability to ensure that work areas be in compliance with company policies against discrimination. Additionally, Knouse will be required to report periodically to the EEOC regarding the cooperative’s investigation into and resolution of any complaints of alleged discrimination, harassment or retaliation, and must post a notice confirming Knouse’s commitment to comply with Title VII.

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