Florida’s largest tomato grower has agreed to pay female farmworkers $150,000 to settle claims that their supervisors subjected them to repeated sexual harassment.
While picking tomatoes for DiMare Ruskin, Catalina Ramirez said her crew supervisor asked her for sex over and over. He told Ramirez he wanted to kiss her all over, and told her she would regret rejecting his advances because he was “well-endowed.”
Lucia Reyes was groped and sexually taunted by male co-workers while working in the Immokalee fields, according to the lawsuit.
Both Ramirez and Reyes went to their supervisors to complain, but soon found they needed a sexual harassment attorney because they were fired. They filed their lawsuit last year.
Sexual harassment is a growing problem for female farmworkers all across the country. These women are often reluctant to report the incidents, because they are either undocumented, or fear they will lose their jobs. But federal law forbids retaliation and a sexual harassment lawyer can make certain an employer pays if they take action against the reporting employee instead of the harasser.
DiMare Ruskin agreed to pay the two women $150,000 to settle the suit. The company will also be required to implement a sexual harassment training program and a system for employees to report workplace abuses. They will also have to report to the EEOC for the next three years.
Employers don’t always recognize the effects a hostile workplace has on their employees. By allowing sexual harassment to persist, employers are liable for the emotional distress that victims suffer, and can be held accountable for their inaction by a skilled sexual harassment lawyer.