Bisconti Farms, Inc. and Bisconti Management, Inc. to Pay $200,000 to Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Suit
Female Manager and Two Female Employees at Mushroom Farm Sexually Harassed Multiple Female Workers, Federal Agency Charged
READING, Pa. - Bisconti Farms, Inc. and Bisconti Management, Inc. (collectively, "Bisconti Farms"), operators of a mushroom farm in Temple, Pa., will pay $200,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
The EEOC charged that from at least 2007 until 2015, a female manager and two female employees at Bisconti Farms subjected eight female workers working in various mushroom-harvesting positions to repeated sexual harassment in the form of unwanted sexual touching and comments. The EEOC also charged that Bisconti Farms retaliated against one of the workers who opposed the sexual harassment by disciplining her and demoting or reassigning her to a different, lower-paying position.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment and discrimination. Title VII also prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee because she opposed discrimination or harassment. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC et al. v. Bisconti Farms, Inc., et al., Civil Action No. 18-cv-4166) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Reading) after first attempting to reach a voluntary prelitigation settlement through its conciliation process. Two of the female workers also sued in their own names as part of the EEOC's case.
The three-year consent decree resolving the litigation has been approved by the federal court. In addition to paying $200,000 in monetary relief to the eight female workers, Bisconti Farms is prohibited from engaging in sex discrimination. Bisconti Farms must submit mandatory reports to the EEOC of any future complaints and investigations of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or retaliation. It will create and disseminate an anti-discrimination policy and complaint procedure, in Spanish and English, and will designate EEO officers to investigate and respond to complaints. The three individuals charged by the EEOC as perpetrators of the harassment are barred from holding supervisory positions with Bisconti Farms. Bisconti Farms will provide training on Title VII in Spanish and English and will provide EEO officers additional training on conducting investigations of complaints. Finally, Bisconti Farms must post and distribute to workers a bi-lingual notice about the settlement and employees' rights under Title VII.
"Agricultural workers feed our country and are vital to our economy. They, like all workers, deserve the right to make a living without being subjected to sexual harassment," said EEOC Philadelphia District Office Director Jamie R. Williamson.
EEOC Philadelphia District Office Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "Employers have a duty to protect their workers from sexual harassment. That duty includes providing antiharassment policies, complaint procedures, and training to workers in a form that is language accessible. We are pleased that this settlement provides monetary compensation to the claimants and includes comprehensive measures designed to protect all workers from unlawful harassment, discrimination, and retaliation."
EEOC's Philadelphia District Office is one of four offices in the Philadelphia District, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C., and parts of Virginia.
Protecting vulnerable workers, including immigrant and migrant workers, and underserved communities from discrimination is one of the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) priorities. Preventing systemic harassment is another SEP priority.