Hop grower to pay $85k to settle sexual harassment suit

SEATTLE — A federal agency says one of the largest hop producers in the world will pay $85,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says Roy Farms will pay the settlement stemming from a male supervisor harassing male farmworkers.

The EEOC’s lawsuit says that for nearly two years, male farmworkers at the Eastern Washington farm faced constant sexual and threatening comments and physical contact from an orchard supervisor. The lawsuit says the supervisor would tell the workers in vulgar terms that he wanted to have sex with them and in some occasions would caress their faces, backs and buttocks.

The agency says one of the farmworkers affected, Martin Barrera, notified supervisors and eventually the farm’s owner of the harassment, but nothing was done. Eventually, he quit.

In addition to paying the settlement, Roy Farms has agreed to revamp its complaint procedure, among other changes.

Roy Farms is based in Moxee. It produces hops, apples, cherries and blueberries.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Additional information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

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