Grower settles case with federal agency

— One of the largest apple producers in the U.S. will pay $272,000 divided among 20 claimants as part of a settlement resolving sexual harassment and retaliation claims.

Evans Fruit agreed to the settlement Thursday, which now eliminates any pending appeals.

The company twice in the past five years defeated the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before agreeing to a settlement.

The agency filed a lawsuit in 2010 alleging numerous female farm workers at a company ranch near Sunnyside 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 assisted in the investigation.

In September 2011, the agency filed a second lawsuit against Evans Fruit, charging the alleged intimidation constituted illegal retaliation. 

However, the agency ended up losing both cases

The agency appealed and Thursday reached the settlement with Evans Fruit.

“Before this, I thought I didn’t have any real alternatives. I thought that the harassment and fear were just part of the job, what I had to put up with to support my children,” Aurelia Garcia, one of the claimants, said. “Now I know there are laws that protect me and other women. I hope this will give other workers hope and help them to speak out.”


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