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Four out of 10 migrant workers face sexual harrassment

According to a new report, many of California's farm workers face sexual harassment while on the job. As many as four out of 10 immigrant farm worker women have faced sexual harassment; however, many fail to report it for fear of retaliation or a lack of information available.

One woman found herself as a victim in 2006 after her supervisor constantly asked her to become involved with him. After attempting to rebuff his advances, he sexually assaulted her. Like many undocumented women, she did not file a police report and did not report the supervisor.

However, seven months later, the woman took action and filed a complaint against the supervisor after she decided that she did not want the same thing to happen to her daughters and sisters. The company fired her as a result. After filing a civil suit, the company eventually agreed to a confidential settlement in 2010.

The regional attorney for the San Francisco office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) argues that women who work in the fields are the most vulnerable against gender-based discrimination. Because these women are not protected, their supervisors have the power to retaliate if the women do not comply or if they complain. While the EEOC has won a number of cases for migrant workers, few of these women even know that the agency exists.

All employees have the right to be protected against gender-based discrimination. An experienced California attorney may be able to help their clients obtain compensation for lost wages if the employee is fired for filing a complaint. The attorney may also be able to help their clients in the event that the company allows the sexual harassment to continue by not responding to the complaint.

Source: Southern California Public Radio, "Migrant farmworkers speak up about sexual harassment and rape", Sasha Khokha, June 28, 2013

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