New York, NY- The rampant sexual harassment of female farmworkers is getting the spotlight both in court and in the media lately, bringing to light a problem that has been long ignored.
Earlier this week, a Florida tomato grower agreed to pay three female employees $150,000 to settle claims that male supervisors sexually harassed female subordinates. The women were fired for reporting the incidents and finally took their case to the EEOC.
This is just the most recent settlement; there have been many others which highlight a growing problem for female farmworkers across the country. A report by the Human Rights Watch, released in May showed that sexual assault and abuse of migrant farm workers is very common.
The abuse of female farmworkers includes rape, sexual assault, stalking, groping, inappropriate and vulgar language as well as solicitations for sex.
“Our research confirms what farmworker advocates across the country believe: Sexual Violence and sexual harassment experienced by farmworkers is common enough that some farmworkers women see these abuses as an unavoidable condition of agricultural work.”
Because 60 percent of farmworkers are illegal immigrants their abusers hold power over them so they often fear speaking out about the misconduct. They don’t want to be subjected to retaliation or the possibility of having their undocumented status discovered.
This abuse of power isn’t exclusive to farms, many men and women seek out the assistance of a sexual harassment attorney to stop the behavior because their employers take no action. After an employee reports the abuse and their employers fail to act appropriately, they must first file a complaint with the EEOC after which they can initiate a lawsuit