EEOC Sues Windmill Farms Nursery and Moreno Farms for Sexual Harassment

by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Contact

Farmworker Women Subjected to Rape, Coerced Sex, Groping and Verbal Abuse, Federal Agency Charges in Two Separate Lawsuits

MIAMI - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed two separate sexual harassment lawsuits yesterday afternoon -- one against Windmill Farms Nursery, Inc., a plant material wholesaler and nursery located in Zolfo Springs, Fla., and another against Moreno Farms, Inc., a farming business with packing and distribution facilities in Felda, Fla. -- the agency announced today.

The two lawsuits charge the companies with sexual harassment of female agricultural workers at the hands of their supervisors.  The lawsuits again bring to the forefront, and underscore the EEOC's longstanding nationwide commitment to addressing, the plight of this vulnerable segment of workers, who are often reluctant or unable to exercise their rights under the equal employment laws.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit against Windmill Farms Nurseries, Inc., a male supervisor sexually harassed female employees who worked as planters at the nursery. The EEOC claims that the harasser sexually propositioned a female worker and offered favors if she agreed to be his girlfriend. The lawsuit also alleges that this supervisor regularly harassed another female employee, including by groping her. The supervisor allegedly fired one of the victims less than a month after she rejected his sexual advances.

In a completely separate action, the EEOC also filed suit against Moreno Farms, Inc. (an entity not related to Windmill Farms Nurseries, Inc.). The EEOC charges that a male supervisor in Moreno Farms' packaging facility engaged in graphic acts of sexual harassment, including regularly groping one female employee, demanding and having sex with her on three occasions, and threatening the employee with termination if she did not have sex with him. This supervisor ultimately terminated the employee because she refused to have sex with his brother, who supervised pickers working the fields adjacent to the packaging facility. The EEOC further alleges that the supervisor's brother raped a female worker, and that the supervisor's male assistant raped a different female worker.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who oppose it. The EEOC filed suit against Moreno Farms, Inc. (Case No. 1:14-cv-23181-DPG) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  The EEOC filed suit against Windmill Farms Nursery, Inc. (Case No. 8:14-cv-2116-T36- MAP) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division after similarly first trying to reach a pre-litigation settlement. The suits both seek monetary and injunctive relief.

"No employee should be required to endure sexually degrading, abusive conduct as a condition of employment," said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the Miami District Office. "Female agricultural workers are no different. This lawsuit seeks to protect the civil rights of an important but vulnerable segment of our labor force - the agricultural worker."

Malcolm Medley, district director for the Miami District Office, added, "The EEOC has a significant law enforcement duty to protect all members of the workforce, including agricultural workers, who often endure egregious violations of their rights."

Combating discrimination against agricultural workers falls within one of the EEOC's priorities under its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP): protecting immigrant, migrant and other vulnerable workers. Preventing harassment through systemic enforcement and targeted outreach is another specific SEP priority. To learn more about the EEOC's strategic plan and enforcement priorities, visit http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/plan/sep.cfm.

For a select list of pending and resolved EEOC cases involving national origin discrimination and/or immigrant workers from 2005 to the present, see http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/litigation/selected/national_origin_immigrant_workers.cfm. For a select list of pending and resolved cases involving farmworkers from 1999 to the present, see http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/litigation/selected/farmworkers_august_2014.cfm.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. The Miami District Office's jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Contact
more
less

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.