Evans Fruit Co. Enters Workplace Mediation over Sexual Harassment
Evans Fruit Co., based out of Cowiche Washington and one of the largest apple producers in the US, is entering workplace mediation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Charges were filed by the EEOC accusing a supervisor of sexually harassing female employees. This mediation was ordered by US Eastern District Judge Lonny Suko. According to Suko, the EEOC did not adequately mediate the complaints before proceeding with litigation.
The Accusations As Mediation Services are Pending
According to the EEOC, an orchard foreman made several unwanted sexual advances to female employees and conducted other sexually offensive behavior between the years 2006 and 2010. They filed the lawsuit in 2010. The EEOC filed a second lawsuit regarding claims that this Sunnyside-based orchard foreman retaliated against the claimants for testifying against him to the agency's investigators.
The second lawsuit is not technically part of the mediation as it was ordered, but both parties could include it if they desire. That decision amounts to whether or not they think it would be beneficial to “kill two birds with one stone.”
Evans Fruit's Response to Civil Mediation Order
At this time, the foreman in question no longer works for Evans Fruit Company. This is possibly the reason that Evans mediation attorneys want most of the claims dismissed in the event of litigation. They maintain this stance in the event that the workplace mediation falls through. Even though they intend to get most of the charges dropped, they have indicated that they will still enter the mediation in good faith.
Judge Suko has, for the time being, put the litigation on hold pending the results of the civil mediation. The mediation will be seen by a judge from Oregon.