Seven male dairy workers employed at a Washington Darigold member dairy have filed complaints with the EEOC alleging sexual harassment and sexual assault. According to the workers, the dairy’s supervisor has threatened workers’ wages and livelihoods to obtain unwanted sexual acts. Workers report that this unlawful behavior has been happening for over five years.
The male Supervisor’s reported actions include grabbing workers’ privates, rubbing their buttocks, and sexually explicit and hostile, unwanted advances. Two workers were offered pay raises if they were to allow the supervisor “to have their way with them.” Those workers who refused the Supervisor’s advances reported being sent to do less desirable work, having their wages lowered, and being threatened with firing.
These complaints are the eighth such complaint dairy workers have filed with the EEOC in the last month. In April, the UFW hosted a sexual harassment forum in Pasco, WA, in which representatives of the EEOC and Washington Attorney General’s office spoke to dairy workers and other farmworkers about sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace and what can be done to address it.
These are only the most recent cases of sexual violence. In 2018, the EEOC awarded former dairy worker Maria Gonzalez $100,000 for having endured sexual abuse at the Darigold member dairy where she was employed and for subsequently being retaliated against following her reporting the abuse to farm management.
“Sexual violence at Darigold member dairies appears to be an epidemic,” said Erik Nicholson, National Vice President of the United Farm Workers. “In my just under 30 years working in agriculture, I’ve never seen anything like what we’re uncovering at a number of Darigold member dairies. We need everyone involved, from consumers who enjoy Darigold milk, to the companies that buy the milk, to State and Federal authorities, to take immediate action to stop this sexual violence and to ensure the victims receive the support and care they need and deserve.”
Note: to respect the integrity of the EEOC investigative process, the names of the workers and the name of the dairy are being intentionally withheld.