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Harrassment Claim Costs Oregon Nursery $65,000Salem-News.com
Leo Gentry Fired Woman for Complaining About Unwanted Advances by Boss, Federal Agency Charged.
(SEATTLE, Wa.) - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that it has settled its sexual harassment lawsuit against a Damascus, Oregon nursery for $65,000 and other relief.
The EEOC's complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, (EEOC v. Leo Gentry Wholesale Nursery, Inc. No. 07-CV-1464-AA) asserted that Leo Gentry Wholesale Nursery fired a female employee, who had worked for the company nearly eight years, after she complained about sexual harassment by her immediate supervisor at its facility. The EEOC said the supervisor asked the woman out on dates more than a dozen times but refused her requests to stop the unwanted approaches.
Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In this case, the employee contacted the Oregon Law Center (OLC) after being terminated only hours after she reported ongoing sexual harassment by her supervisor to Leo Gentry owners. The OLC was able to assist its client in filing a successful sexual harassment discrimination charge with the EEOC.
In addition to the monetary settlement, Leo Gentry Wholesale Nursery agreed to implement anti-discrimination policies and procedures in its work force.
The company also agreed to provide anti-discrimination training to all its management and non-management employees in its Oregon facilities. The nursery will also provide periodic reports to EEOC on its compliance with the terms of the consent decree.
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"We strongly encourage employers to implement workplace polices that will protect their employees from harassment and discrimination," said EEOC Regional Attorney Bill Tamayo. "Also, we expect employers to conduct an investigation once an employee complains of harassment or discrimination. Failure to act will only invite litigation."
The Oregon Law Center, a nonprofit legal aid program providing free civil legal services to low income people in Oregon, has established a project focusing specifically on the issues of workplace-related sexual harassment and sexual assault in agricultural labor. The project has been successful in educating farm workers and helping them to seek legal protections when faced with sexual harassment/assault at work.
Oftentimes, due to linguistic and logistical barriers, it is difficult for farm workers to make contact with state and federal agencies to report workplace discrimination. Over the past two years, the OLC and the EEOC have been collaborating to connect farm workers who have or are experiencing workplace-related sexual harassment with the EEOC.
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