EEOC sues labor contractor

California labor contractor Mid Valley Labor Services, Inc., is being sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for allegations regarding sexual harassment and retaliation against Latina contract laborers.

Mid Valley Labor Services, based in Madera, Calif., contracts hundreds of farm laborers across the state. Both the company and its legal counsel declined to comment on the lawsuit.

According to the complaint, laborers Magnolia Gomez-Lopez, Emelia Rios and other female employees were allegedly harassed by their male crew supervisor. The alleged harassment included sexual comments, gestures and advances from the beginning of their employment in the spring of 2008 until their termination at the end of May 2008. According to the suit, the employees refused his advances and were fired as a result.

The EEOC is requesting that the court orders the defendant to carry out policies and programs to prohibit sex discrimination and harassment, provide back pay and possibly reinstate them, provide compensation for out-of-pocket expenses such as medical care and compensate them for emotional pain and suffering that resulted from the unlawful employment practices.

The amounts will be determined in court.

-- Anna Willard

5 counties to get drought relief

Despite a better-than-average rainfall year in much of the state, five counties in far Northern California are eligible for federal drought relief for livestock grazing losses.

Cattle producers in Modoc, Siskiyou, Lassen, Plumas and Shasta counties are qualified for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2010 Livestock Forage Disaster Program after receiving less than average rainfall for the season, according to a California Cattlemen's Association bulletin.

Producers who are participating in the Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program from the Farm Service Agency may file eligibility forms through their local FSA office. The forage program is funded through the 2008 Farm Bill.

Former livestock instructor dies

Former students of California Polytechnic University-San Luis Obispo are mourning the death of former instructor Bill Jacobs, who was killed May 29 in a car crash in Oklahoma.

Jacobs coached many winning livestock judging teams during his tenure at Cal Poly from 1969 to 1984, according to the California Cattlemen's Association. He left the campus to operate a Hereford ranch in Oklahoma.

Former students and friends held a memorial for Jacobs June 20 at the Alberti Ranch in San Luis Obispo.

Funds raised for key fire lookout

A group is raising funds to maintain a fire lookout in Paradise, Calif., where the 2008 Humboldt Fire burned 23,344 acres of mostly timberland and destroyed 87 residences.

The Friends of Sawmill Peak Fire Lookout recently received a $4,000 donation from the Magalia, Calif.-based group Bare on the Ridge, but they are still short of money needed to open on July 1.

Donations can be dropped off at the Downtown Market in Paradise or mailed to Sawmill Peak, 208 Pearson Road, Paradise, CA 95969.

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