Farm workers are known as one of the most vulnerable populations for sexual harassment in the workplace. This is particularly true of women who work in California’s agricultural sector, with farm hands facing language barriers and continued abuse. Many farm workers are afraid to report their supervisors for the alleged abuse, largely because they are afraid of being deported or losing their job. One California woman stood up for herself by trying to press criminal charges, but her assailant was acquitted. Regional authorities say more legal help is needed to protect farm workers of both genders.
The woman reportedly failed to receive her paycheck one week in 2006. Needing that money to pay bills, the woman went to get her check, but she was referred to a supervisor she had never met. That man reportedly drove her to a deserted pistachio orchard, where he raped her and forced her to perform oral sex before receiving her money. Two days later, the woman visited a legal aid clinic to find out more about her right to pay. The rape incident was discovered at that time. The woman went to a hospital for a rape exam. Prosecutors decided there was enough evidence to press charges. A jury did not find the man guilty, however, because he claimed that the sexual encounter was consensual.
In many of these criminal cases, juries are alienated by the victims’ inability to speak English. Attorneys say that situation can often distance juries from the victims, causing them to be less empathetic. Even though the man in this case was not convicted, however, the victim said she is glad she may have stopped him from attacking again.
The woman may also choose to pursue civil claims against the man and her former employer. These claims could yield additional funds related to the woman’s sexual harassment claim. If you have been harassed at work, you could be entitled to compensation. Consider speaking to a qualified attorney to find out more about your legal options.
www.californiareport.org, “Farmworker’s sexual harassment claim leads to trial, but odds are long in criminal cases” Sasha Khokha, Jun. 28, 2013