Addressing a business group in Washington State, the EEOC’s Northwest regional attorney told them that “If they ignore the subject or convey an attitude of indifference they are setting themselves up for trouble.”
Capital Press reports that William Tamayo spoke to the Washington Farm Labor Association, and noted that 25% of the EEOC’s national case docket is comprised of sexual harassment cases. In the past, some of these types of cases were so egregious that they were settled for millions of dollars – cases that involved rapes and threats of termination, deportation and death.
We reported on December 14, 2012 that sexual harassment of farmworkers, which Mr. Tamayo was focusing on in his talk, has been established by the EEOC as an area of concern, with the words “harrowing,” “appalling” and “extreme abuse” used regarding a series of recently filed cases. The EEOC has said it is explicitly targeting the abuse of “vulnerable workers.”
As to what employers should do, Mr. Tamayo stated that employers should encourage good workplace culture, and that “no policy, no training, no consequences enables the predator."
"A common thread in egregious cases is total neglect. Out of sight and out of mind. In one of our cases an employer on the witness stand said, ‘We don’t have policies. These are just farmworkers. Oh, I mean we’re just a family farm."