Wash. Fruit Company sued for discrimination and retaliation


SELAH, Wash. (AP) — A fruit company in central Washington is accused in a federal lawsuit of discriminating against an employee based on her sex and retaliating against her and her husband.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges in the lawsuit filed last month in U.S. District Court that a Monson Fruit production manager made unwelcome advances and sexually harassed an employee between June and September 2019, The Yakima Herald-Republic reported.

Monson Fruit Co. is a family-owned fruit packer, grower and shipper based in Selah, Washington.

Monson officials declined to comment to the newspaper.

According to the lawsuit, the production manager made unwelcome sexual advances and comments on the worker and offered her benefits and money in exchange for sex.

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When the incidents were reported, the behavior did not change and the company took no action, according to the lawsuit. When the woman transferred to avoid the manager, he fired her husband, who also worked at the facility, the complaint says.

The production manager also failed to provide job modifications offered to other pregnant employees when the woman became pregnant, and was forced to resign because Monson failed to stop the harassment, according to the lawsuit.

“Sexual harassment and retaliation within the farmworker community is a pervasive problem,” EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Teri Healy said in a statement. “The EEOC will vigorously prosecute employers who refuse to protect their employees.”

The lawsuit seeks lost wages, money damages including compensation for emotional distress, punitive damages, and training on handling sexual harassment in the workplace.

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