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Tree farm accused of harassment

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A Christmas tree farm based in Oregon's Willamette Valley has been accused of unlawful employment practices by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.


The federal agency, which enforces labor discrimination laws, claims a supervisor and a crew leader at Holiday Specialtrees of Woodburn, Ore. subjected two male workers to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.


According to EEOC's legal complaint against the company, the supervisor and crew leader -- who were also male -- exposed themselves, inappropriately touched the workers and made offensive sexual comments.


The supervisor and crew leader also allegedly discriminated against the two workers for speaking Mixtecan, a language indigenous to Mexico, and made disparaging comments about their heritage, the complaint said.


The legal complaint seeks financial damages on behalf of the workers, compensation for the EEOC's legal costs and an injunction against discriminatory employment practices at the firm.


Tim Bernasek, an attorney for Holiday Specialtrees, said the company learned of the accusations several months ago and "has worked hard to see that the accusers as well as the employees who are the subject of the accusations have been treated fairly and justly."


"Holiday Specialtrees will vigorously defend itself in this case," he said in an e-mail.


The operation is unrelated to Holiday Tree Farms, a Christmas tree company based in Corvallis, Ore.


-- Mateusz Perkowski



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