Farm settles harassment lawsuit
A Washington fruit producer has agreed to pay $85,000 to settle a male-on-male sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the federal government.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had filed a legal complaint in 2012 against Roy Farms of Moxee, Wash.
The agency claimed the apple, blueberry, cherry and hop producer failed to stop an orchard supervisor from threatening to sexually assault male workers and urinating in front of them.
Aside from the $85,000 payment, the consent decree requires Roy Farms to establish sexual harassment policies, procedures and training.
Roy Farms denies any wrongdoing in the settlement.
Brendan Monahan, the farm’s attorney, said the company has had a sexual harassment policy in place since the 1990s.
Roy Farms is a “progressive, employee-friendly place to work” that made a business decision to pay the $85,000 rather than continue litigating with the federal government, he said.
The amount is 10 percent of what the EEOC initially sought, Monahan said.
The orchard supervisor who was accused of harassment still works at the farm but was disciplined for using coarse language, he said.
Some of the Spanish slang he used was also misinterpreted by the employees, he said.
The supervisor engaged in “locker room” banter that didn’t rise to the level of sexual harassment, but the behavior has been corrected, Monahan said.