SEATTLE (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a lawsuit June 13 against Stemilt Growers, the largest organic tree fruit grower in the United States, for allegations of subjecting a Latina tractor driver to sexual harassment and then retaliating against her after she reported the abuse.
"No one should have to choose between continuing to work under a harasser or taking a pay cut to feel safe at work," said EEOC senior trial attorney Carmen Flores. "Employers are responsible for the conduct of their supervisors and must act promptly to stop harassment of their workers."
EEOC says Heidi Corona worked for Stemilt as a tractor driver at the company’s orchard in Wenatchee, Washington, and she was the only female in this job position. Corona’s direct supervisor allegedly sexually harassed her and, when she told him she was only there to work, he excluded her from meetings with other truck drivers. She purportedly complained to upper management and was given a choice of remaining in the position or accepting a transfer to a lower-paying job.
"We have seen how farmworkers, a group that is so often comprised of immigrant women working in isolated areas, are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment,” said EEOC Seattle Field Office director Nancy Sienko. “The EEOC has made a priority of defending the civil rights of vulnerable workers and will seek the full extent of legal relief for Ms. Corona."
The EEOC seeks lost wages, monetary damages and injunctive relief.