Wisconsin’s largest ginseng producer is facing a federal lawsuit charging the company with subjecting female workers to hostile work environment and firing them for resisting, and for discriminating against employees because of their national origin.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed the suit against Baumann Farms, a major agricultural company in central Wisconsin.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the employees worked for Baumann Farms from April 2018 to August 2019 as farm workers. Baumann Farms, located on 500 acres in Wausau, Wisconsin, is the largest grower and producer of ginseng in the Midwest.
The female employees were harassed by their male supervisor, who propositioned them for sex, sent them sexually explicit photographs and texts, touched them inappropriately, and subjected them to sex-based derogatory comments and threats of physical harm.
The employees were also fired for opposing the sexual harassment, according to the EEOC’s lawsuit. The EEOC also charged that Baumann Farms subjected a class of similarly situated female employees to a hostile work environment based on sex.
Further, the EEOC said that Baumann Farms has an English-only policy that discriminates against non-English-speaking Hispanic employees based on national origin.
This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees because of their sex or national origin.
The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Baumann Farms, LLP., Civil Action No. 3:21-cv-00579) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The EEOC seeks back pay, and compensatory and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief.
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