April 19, 2014

Giumarra Vineyards Agrees to Sweeping Changes to Settle EEOC Suit Filed on Behalf of Indigenous Farmworkers

Company Agrees to Train Thousands of Migrant Laborers on Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

FRESNO – Giumarra Vineyards, one of the largest growers of table grapes in the United States, will settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.  The company agreed to comprehensive and sweeping changes of company procedures in dealing with discrimination and retaliation, affecting up to 3,000 employees and to expend a total of $350,000 to resolve EEOC’s case.

The settlement resolves a federal lawsuit filed by the EEOC against Giumarra Vineyards in 2010 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. Giumarra Vineyards Corporation, et al, Case No. 1:09-cv-02255).  The EEOC alleged that a 17-year-old female migrant worker was sexually harassed and others were subjected to retaliation, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The claimants in the case are Tarascan (otherwise known as P'urhépecha) and Zapotec which are indigenous groups in Mexico, a minority among the farmworker community who worked at Giumarra’s facility in Edison, Calif. 

As part of the widespread preventive measures, Giumarra agreed to devote part of the settlement to train its work force, including hiring a third-party trainer to conduct training on sexual harassment and retaliation for thousands of its migrant farmworkers, other employees and incoming new staff regarding sexual harassment and retaliation in languages that the employees understand.  Management and human resources officials will also be trained annually and receive additional training on how to appropriately handle such complaints.  

Among the other comprehensive changes, Giumarra agreed to implement changes to revamp its anti-discrimination policies and complaint procedures dealing with sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.  The policies and procedures will also be available in languages that the employees understand. Giumarra also agreed to develop a centralized tracking system and to hire a human resources professional to effectively handle complaints of discrimination.  A notice will also be posted throughout the company regarding the resolution.  The EEOC will monitor compliance of the consent decree over the three-year period.

“We commend Giumarra Vineyards for setting a new standard in the way sexual harassment and retaliation complaints from migrant farmworkers are handled by growers,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which includes the central valley of California in its jurisdiction.  “The tremendous undertaking of training a vast number of migrant farmworkers by a prominent grower like Giumarra Vineyards is a groundbreaking endeavor. We hope that with this sweeping resolution, the agricultural industry begins to self-regulate in rooting out the pervasive problems we continue to see in that industry.”

Melissa Barrios, director for the EEOC’s Fresno Local Office, which services Kern County, added, “We encourage all workers to report sexual harassment and retaliation with the EEOC.   We truly hope that other growers take Giumarra’s lead in taking seriously the pervasive problem of sexual harassment and retaliation that migrant farmworkers continue to face.” 

Suguet Lopez, executive director for Líderes Campesinas, a non-profit organization in California devoted to servicing farmworker women, stated, “Too many young women suffer in silence due to rampant sexual harassment in the fields.  For real change to happen, we need the growers to take a stand against sexual harassment in the workplace and offer education to workers on their rights to offset further abuses. We are encouraged by the news that such a major company will conduct the necessary training on such a large scale. We also commend the EEOC for championing these efforts in the migrant farmworker community.”

According to its website, Calif.-based Giumarra is a family-run company that employs up to 3,000 people.  Aside from cultivating 25 varieties of table grapes, Giumarra is an international network of fresh produce growers, distributors and marketers, sourcing produce from apples to zucchini internationally.

© Copyright 2013 - U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

About the Author

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

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