By DAN WHEAT
YAKIMA, Wash. -- An attorney for Evans Fruit Co. says a second U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit against the company contains nothing new and that the plaintiffs have been unsuccessful in prior claims.
"We know most of the alleged victims. They sued Evans for RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) and made prior claims on age discrimination and lost on all those claims," said Brendan Monahan, a Yakima attorney for Evans Fruit Co. of Cowiche.
"We know them. They've been lining up for years with grudges against Evans Fruit," Monahan said.
The EEOC filed suit Sept. 15 in U.S. District Court in Yakima alleging the company violated federal law by retaliating against workers for cooperating with an investigation that led to the EEOC's June 2010 lawsuit against Evans alleging sexual harassment.
The alleged intimidation are the same incidents that led to a prior temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, Monahan said. "There's nothing new here," he said.
The EEOC's latest press release is "a bunch of fabrication," he said. "We deny the allegations and are looking forward to our day in court. We are looking forward to having a jury assess the credibility of the plaintiffs."
The two cases will likely eventually be joined, he said.
The 2010 sexual harassment suit is on appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on discovery issues, he said.
"The EEOC doesn't like the ruling a local judge made on whether we can discover immigration status," Monahan said. "We're trying to obtain as much information as we can about the plaintiffs."
Evans Fruit is one of the largest apple producers in the United States, operating more than 7,000 acres of orchard and employing 1,200 seasonal workers in addition to year-round staff. The company is a major exporter of Red Delicious apples to Mexico.