One of the largest apple producers in the United States will pay $272,000 to 20 claimants as part of a settlement resolving sexual harassment and retaliation claims pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced.
Washington-based Evans Fruit has also agreed to take steps to ensure that the workers do not suffer any retaliation as a result of their participation in the lawsuits or settlement.
In June 2010, EEOC filed a lawsuit alleging that numerous female farm workers at an Evans Fruit ranch faced sexual harassment over a period of years. At the time, the agency won a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against Evans Fruit and ranch manager Juan Marin for allegedly threatening and intimidating individuals who had assisted in EEOC’s investigation.
In September 2011, EEOC filed a second lawsuit against Evans Fruit, charging that such alleged intimidation constituted illegal retaliation.
Northwest Justice Project represented retaliation claimants who joined as intervenors in EEOC’s lawsuit as well as three women in the harassment suit. Both cases resulted in adverse rulings for EEOC and claimants (Case Nos. 10-CV-3033-LRS and 11-CV-3093-LRS, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington).
EEOC, represented by its appellate attorneys, took appeals in both cases.
Northwest Justice Project also appealed on behalf of all intervenors, with James Lobsenz from the law firm Carney Badley Spellman, P.S. as co-counsel for the sexual harassment intervenors. While the appeals were pending in the Ninth Circuit, the Commission, Northwest Justice Project, and Evans Fruit reached a settlement resolving all claims in both cases.