As a prominent Washington grower agrees to pay a fine, its lawyer asks why can’t U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, treat the industry like an ally rather than an adversary?
The quote comes from a Yakima Herald article on a fine being paid by Evans Fruit, one of Washington State’s biggest growers:
Evans Fruit will pay $272,000 to workers and former workers, ending their appeals of sexual harassment and retaliation cases that the company had earlier won in a lower court.
The 20 plaintiffs were represented by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, which announced the settlement Thursday along with the Northwest Justice Project.
The cases had been pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Cowiche-based Evans Fruit remains confident that the lower court rulings in its favor would have been upheld by the appellate court, but the settlement presented a good opportunity to bring the lawsuits against the company to an end, attorney Brendan Monahan said.
The settlement is a fraction of the multimillion-dollar demands that the EEOC originally made against Evans Fruit, Monahan said in an email interview. The company is one of the largest apple growers in the region.
Monahan told the Herald:
Monahan agreed that farmers across the region have taken significant steps to protect workers from sexual harassment, including trainings, reporting hotlines and penalties for retaliation.
“If the EEOC would approach the Washington agriculture industry as an ally as opposed to an adversary, then the gains against harassment and discrimination would increase exponentially,” he said.