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Food company under fire for hostile environment

They may be out of business, but now they're also out of luck. Even defunct businesses can be punished by federal authorities for violating employment law designed to protect employees from hostile work environments. Now, the federal government is pursuing a lawsuit against the Madera food company, alleging that supervisors at the facility sexually harassed female workers and retaliated against those who reported the violations.

Even though the company is officially out of business, it is possible for plaintiffs to recover financial compensation through insurance policies or money obtained from the sale of the operation. In this case, at least four female workers are alleging that they were sexually harassed during their time at the facility. Several other workers are alleging retaliation. These violations are said to have occurred between 2007 and 2011, according to the complaint.

Official reports show that the company is accused of perpetuating a hostile work environment. Supervisors are said to have harassed the women by grabbing their bodies and following them during their work days. The bosses made comments about the women's personal appearance and effectively prevented them from doing their jobs. Additionally, it appears as though at least one supervisor perpetuated quid pro quo sexual harassment, in which he offered a victim a promotion in exchange for sexual favors. Even though the woman reported the problems, the man was not reprimanded, and he was even accused of harassing several other women.

Other supervisors were also targeted when they complained about the lack of response to the women's sexual harassment claims. Several other employees were passed over for employment opportunities because they expressed discontent at the way the women's complaints were handled.

In this case, the federal government is only able to pursue a judgment against the employer, not the individual supervisor. Still, a civil settlement or award would validate the women's complaints, potentially preventing other workers from being harmed by the same supervisors. Every employee deserves a safe, comfortable working environment free from the stresses that accompany sexual harassment.


Source: 
www.fresnobee.com, "Feds sue defunct Madera food company for sexual harassment" Tim Sheehan, Sep. 25, 2013

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