Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Everett-based egg giant sued by EEOC for worker sex harassment

by October 9th, 2012

Seattle and San Francisco attorneys for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have filed suit against the Everett-based egg producer and processor National Food Corporation, alleging that for almost seven years a manager of one of the company’s egg farms, in Lind, Wash., demanded sex from a worker identified as Jane Doe. When she refused he allegedly retaliated by giving her harder work, disciplining her unfairly and finally firing her. This created a hostile work environment and constituted disparate, or discriminatory treatment based on gender, the EEOC alleges.

The action also alleges that Doe’s co-workers Leslie Silva, Ramiro Moran, Magdalena Saldana and Maria Gomez were discharged as a result of attending a 2009 meeting with a company production manager and other current and former employees at which complaints were aired about “sexually harassing conduct” by the farm manager. Lind is a small town in Adams County, Washington.

The EEOC is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for the five workers from National Foods in a jury trial it has requested in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington.

A message left with National Foods Corp. President Brian Bookey at the company’s Everett headquarters was not immediately returned.

The EEOC announced the action Friday October 4. A statement issued by the agency at its web site provides further details on the allegations. It says, in part:

The EEOC’s suit charged that a supervisor at National Food’s egg farm in Lind, Wash., physically grabbed a female worker and repeatedly demanded sexual favors in order to keep her job. On a day-to-day basis, he was the only management employee on site supervising ten barns, and he took advantage of the fact that each barn was assigned one woman working in isolation, according to the EEOC’s investigation. The supervisor made sexual demands several times a week, and the harassment continued for years. When employees raised complaints about sexual harassment, they were fired or forced out of their jobs.

“I suffered humiliating and disgusting demands from my boss,” said the barn worker, who relied on her job at National Food’s farm to support her mother and her daughter for almost seven years. “He should never have been allowed to have this kind of power.”

The EEOC Oct. 4 also announced another suit filed in the Eastern District of Washington U.S. court against Roy Farms, Inc. of Moxee, Wash. It alleges a male general manager at the company, which grows apples, cherries, blueberries, and hops, sexually harassed a male farm worker to the point that he felt forced to quit.

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