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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
7-16-12

DiMare Ruskin to Pay $150,000 and Furnish Nationwide Relief to Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Consent  Decree Settles Suit Against Tomato Grower Which Fired Women for Complaining  About Abuse, Federal Agency Charged

MIAMI – DiMare Ruskin, Inc., a Florida-based tomato grower and produce  provider, will pay $150,000 to two female farmworkers and take other  steps to prevent and address unlawful harass­ment and retaliation at its farms  and facilities nationwide as part of a three-year consent decree that will resolve  a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC),  the agency announced today. 

The EEOC’s lawsuit (Civil Action No.  2:11-cv-00158-UA-SPC,  filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida) charged that DiMare  Ruskin violated anti-discrimination laws when supervisors at one of its Immokalee,  Fla., locations subjected two female farmworkers to unlawful sexual harassment  during their approximately three months of employment in the 2008-2009 growing  season.  The EEOC further alleged that  DiMare Ruskin fired the women when they opposed the supervisors’ unlawful  conduct. 

Such alleged conduct violates Title  VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The  EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement  through its conciliation process.

As required by the three-year  consent decree settling the suit, DiMare Ruskin will establish a nationwide anti-harassment  policy for employees to use to communicate complaints to the company.  Further, DiMare Ruskin will provide  nationwide training to its management and non-management employees on the  anti-discrimination laws enforced by EEOC, and will provide inform­ation to  EEOC concerning its handling of discrimination complaints for three years.

“Sexual harassment against women in the agricultural industry is a big  problem,” said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney of the Miami District  Office.  “DiMare Ruskin took a major step  in the right direction by agreeing to establish nationwide policies and  procedures designed to prevent sexual harassment in the future -- and to  provide a means for employees to complain when they feel they are being subjected  to it.  Also, the Coalition for Immokalee  Workers should be commended for its role in educating members of the Southwest  Florida farmworker community of their rights under federal anti-discrimination  laws.”

EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez  added, “This is the latest in a series of successful EEOC  resolutions nationwide aimed to ensure that the protections of the  anti-discrimination laws extend to all employees in this country, even the most  vulnerable.  To have meaning, we must not  allow these protections to be impeded by employment in remote  agricultural areas, cultural barriers, or low wages.”

Malcolm Medley, director of the EEOC’s Miami District Office, further  commented, “It is incumbent upon employers to provide a meaningful mechanism  for employees to report unwanted harassment.   The EEOC is encouraged that DiMare Ruskin is taking steps to ensure that  its nationwide work force is able to report unlawful harassment, and that it  will be providing training to all of its employees on their rights and  responsibilities under the law.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws  prohibiting employment discrimination.   Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site  at www.eeoc.gov.