The Washington State attorney general's office announced a settlement in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against a vegetable-packing house. The settlement came after a judge granted the plaintiffs, immigrant agricultural workers, a partial summary judgement, stating the employer's anti-discrimination policy was inadequate, and its response to harassment complaints was not timely.
The lawsuit contains allegations that for a period of more than four years, the male supervisor of the onion-packing line hired only women, mostly seasonal workers, and repeatedly harassed them. Complaints against the supervisor included commenting on workers' appearance; making blatant sexual gestures; engaging in physical touching; and suggesting "employees have sex with him" to stay employed. The supervisor frequently threatened the employees' employment status, stating, "There are lots of other people who want your job."
As part of the settlement, the employer will pay affected employees $525,000; will ban the supervisor from holding a supervisory position at the plant; and will develop procedures in which employees can report harassing behavior. The settlement also requires the employer to submit semi-annual reports to the state's attorney general. Hal Bernton "Packing House to pay $525,000 to settle lawsuit," lmtribune.com (Oct. 20, 2018).