Oregon company accused of harassment, retaliation

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against River Point Farms after receiving reports that the Oregon company discriminated against a female worker due to her sex. The EEOC alleges that River Point, the nation's largest onion producer, violated the woman's rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by forcing the employee to work in a hostile environment and failed to protect her from repeated sexual harassment perpetrated by her supervisor.

The civil litigation is concerned largely with a supervisor who allegedly harassed the woman between 2005 and 2010, asking the woman for sexual favors, claiming that women were inferior to men and telling the woman's husband he should beat. In one incident, the supervisor reportedly laughed while telling his crew about a pregnant worker who was hospitalized after being kicked in the stomach by her husband.

The EEOC also claims the supervisor encouraged the worker's husband to murder her. When the husband did indeed attempt to kill the woman, the supervisor reportedly fired her for getting the man arrested. While the supervisor no longer works at River Point, one EEOC official said it is uncertain whether he was terminated due to the alleged harassment.

The EEOC issued a press release about the case, which explained that the law requires employers to "answer for the actions of their management and cannot allow this type of sexist and abusive behavior in the workplace." The lawsuit asks that the court award the woman damages in compensation for the emotional suffering sustained by the harassment and for the supervisor's "malicious and reckless conduct," though the precise sum has not yet been determined. The EEOC has requested a jury trial.

River Farms, which sells onions to major companies like Costco, Subway and Applebee's, chose not to comment on the case.

Source: HermistonHerald.com, "River Point Farms faces lawsuit," Oct. 4, 2012

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