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Oregon Onion Farm Settles In Sexual Harassment Case

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

A northeast Oregon onion producer has settled a sexual harassment suit for $150,000. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, also known as the EEOC, brought the case on the behalf of a female seasonal farm worker at River Point Farms of Hermiston.

She says she faced verbal abuse from her male supervisor from 2005 to 2010. The supervisor requested sexual favors, constantly told her that women are inferior to men and that she should submit to beatings by her husband.

William Tamayo is the regional attorney for the EEOC. He says more than once the supervisor publicly encouraged the woman’s husband to kill her.

“It is incumbent on the employer who has the ultimate say on the conditions of work to make sure this stuff doesn’t happen," Tamayo says. "And if it does happen to take prompt and corrective actions and fire a harasser if necessary.”

Tamayo says agricultural workers in the Northwest are ripe for this kind of mistreatment because they fear losing their jobs and many of them are in the country illegally.

River Point Farms didn’t return calls for comment.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.