Covid-19: We are still open and our employment attorneys are available for you. If you have been forced to work against the government orders or wrongfully fired, call us now. For more information on Coronavirus related employment laws, click here.

The Spitz Law Firm, LLC

Call The Right Attorney

No Fee Guarantee

Can I Sue For Sexual Harassment?

Best Ohio Sexual Harassment Attorney Reply: Who can sue for sexual harassment? Can immigrant workers sue their former bosses for sexual harassment? Can employees working on a green card sue their boss for being sexually harassed on the job? How can I report sexual harassment if I’m undocumented? Can I Sue For Sexual Harassment?

No one should be subjected to
sexual harassment at work. Our lawyers feel very strongly about this. You
should not be sexually harassed by your boss. (My
Boss Is Sexually Harassing Me At Work. I Need A Top Attorney!
). You should
not be subjected to your manager hitting on you or asking for sexual favors (What
Can I Do If My Manager Is Sexually Harassing Me?
). Fellow employees cannot
tell you that they want to have sex with you or share naked pictures or dick
pics with you. (Does
My Boss Have To Stop My Sexually Harassing Coworker?
). Sexual harassment
laws do not protect just women. (Can
Men Sue For Sex Comments At Work?
). Men can sue male supervisors for being
groped or solicited for sex. (Can
I Sue My Same Sex Boss For Sexual Harassment?
). Women can sue the male boss
that makes her promotion contingent on giving up naked pictures or giving a
blow job. (Can
I Sue My Same Gender Boss For Sexual Harassment?). Not only does no mean
no, but nobody means nobody. Nobody is entitled to demand quid pro quo sexual
favors
and nobody should be subjected to a sexually
hostile work environment
.

One of the main goals for The Spitz Law Firm’s lawyers is
to strongly protect the rights of vulnerable populations as best we can under
the law. This is apparent as soon as one steps foot in our firm and looks at
the various advocacy awards, we have hanging in the lobby. Our employment
discrimination attorneys
pride themselves on “fighting the good fight.” Lately,
there has been a lot of talk in the news about one vulnerable population in
particular. Immigrants. It seems like there’s a different story on the news,
every day about immigrants. Some employers thing that the immigrant employees
or undocumented workers are the exception to the “nobody” sexual harassment
laws.

What a lot of employers do not
realize is that undocumented immigrants can sue employers. At a minimum,
undocumented immigrants have the right to be paid for all the work they do, including
at minimum
wage
and overtime;
these workers have the right to work in healthy and safe job conditions, free
from abuse and exploitation; and these migrant workers are protected under
sexual harassment laws, including Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964
and Ohio’s R.C. § 4112.02(A).
While Title VII protects against national origin discrimination (it is illegal for any employer to
discriminate against an employee because of the employee’s national
origin
 or ethnic background).

Let’s look at an example of an
employer getting caught. In Florida, agriculture is huge. Lots of the farms
there rely on immigrant workers to tend their produce. However, far too often,
these employers take advantage of their employees and make them work in
terrible, unfit conditions. This is because the employers know that the workers
do not want to reveal their undocumented status. They capitalize on their
employees’ vulnerability to mistreat them. Employers who hire large amounts of
immigrants recognized them as a vulnerable population, and often try to
capitalize on their immigration status. It’s amazing what people will do if
they think they can get away with it.

Justice was finally served on
one of these farms in Florida. Favorite Farms is a huge produce farm. They
primarily employ migrant workers. Favorite Farms owns and provides on-site
worker housing to its employees and their families. Amazingly, 21 percent of
farmworkers nationally live in employer-owned and provided housing.

Eulalia Salazar-Santiago worked
for Favorite Farms as a field labor employee. Eulalia is a migrant worker who
began working for Favorite Farms in September 2015. She was a strawberry
harvester. Eulalia lived on the farming site with her two children. Eulalia was
a seasonal employee for Favorite Farms. She was a dedicated worker, trying to
improve her family’s situation and provide for her children. Eulalia’s
situation is not uncommon. More than 54 percent of Florida’s immigrants work in
farming, fishing or forestry. They make up more than 45 percent of the workforce in those industries.

Enter stage left: Hector Cruz.
He was a crew leader at Favorite Farms. He oversaw Favorite Farms’ agricultural
operations and field labor. He also was the boss in charge of supervising room
assignments at Favorite Farms’ on-site worker housing units. Cruz generally
held a lot of power at the farm. He was also in charge of investigating complaints
and determined the work schedules and assignments for field labor employees. Basically,
Cruz was the head guy, and he had A LOT of power at this farm.

Sometimes, the more power a
person has, the more entitled they feel. Entitled people not to do their work, can
be lazy, or horrifically, treat their employees however they please. Agricultural
work is consistently ranked among the top three most hazardous jobs in
the United States due to strenuous physical labor, pesticide exposure and
dangerous equipment.

Shortly after Eulalia started
working at Favorite Farms, she quickly attracted Cruz’s attention. She said
that when she was working in the field, he would approach her and “rub up
against her.” Cruz repeatedly propositioned Eulalia for sex. It did not matter
whether they were at work, or off duty. He texted her often asking her for
sexual favors. She repeatedly turned him down – rejected his sexual advances. Cruz
told her that he could “get her American papers” if she said yes. On one
occasion, just weeks after Eulalia started working, he approached her and
grabbed her crotch. She made reports to her direct supervisors, but nothing
ever happened. Cruz was too powerful, too “high up” to do anything. It is
important to note that under Title VII and similar state laws, employers cannot
legally fire an employee for reporting sexual harassment. (Can
I Sue My Employer For Firing Me For Reporting Sexual Harassment?
). If the
company you work for did that, you have a claim for unlawful retaliation.

Cruz’s behavior escalated. He
told her that if she wouldn’t have sex with him, he would fire her. This is a
per se violation of Title VII and the very definition of quid pro quo sexual
harassment – demanding sexual favors in exchange for a tangible job benefit. Any time a boss conditions employment
on a sexual favor, he or she broke the law.

Then the
unthinkable happened. On November 13, 2015, Cruz came to her
apartment unannounced. Cruz told Eulalia that he came to her apartment to check
to see if there was enough room for him to move additional laborers into the
apartment. But he came to her apartment with something completely different in
mind.

She let him into her apartment,
and he immediately pushed her into a bedroom and raped her. Cruz, again, threatened
to fire Eulalia if she reported the rape. However, the next morning, Eulalia
reported the rape to other management officials at Favorite Farms. Then she
reported it to the police. Nothing happened. Favorite Farms took ZERO action.
The rape was never investigated by Favorite Farms, and Cruz was never punished.
Possibly even more disgusting, is the fact that Favorite Farms suspended
Eulalia for a few days from work, without pay. The police investigated the
alleged rape, and the courts granted Eulalia a temporary restraining order. She
was completely devastated, and fearful for her safety.

Despite all of this, Cruz
continued to work there. Not only that, but he didn’t lose any privileges
related to the incident. The scary part is that Cruz maintained unfettered
access to employee apartments, and control over those apartments!

Ultimately, after her
suspension, Favorite Farms fired Eulalia. She was not given a reason for her termination
but was only told not to report back to work. Talk about a wrongful
termination
!

The first time I read this
story, my mouth dropped. It’s almost unbelievable that Favorite Farms would be
that brazen. It’s very clearly sexual harassment, quid pro quo harassment, and assault. Favorite Farms failed Eulalia
when it did not intervene on her behalf to protect her from ongoing abuse. At
the bare minimum, they had a duty to meaningfully investigate her claims. Far
too often, members of vulnerable populations, like immigrants, go unprotected
and taken advantage of. Favorite Farm’s facial attempt to protect their
employees and provide a safe working environment was a catastrophic failure.

According to this report, farm
workers are vulnerable to sexual harassment, assault and rape because of, among
other things, their lack of familiarity with their legal rights, lack of formal
education and, in some cases, English language skills. It’s difficult to
understand the depth of this problem because the instances of crime are often
unreported. According to a UC Santa Cruz study of 150 California female
farmworkers, 40 percent reported experiencing sexual harassment that ranged
from verbal advances to on-the-job rape.

Favorite Farms did not react to
the rape allegations in any way until Eulalia filed a claim with the EEOC. (See Top
Employment Law Attorney: Do Not File With The EEOC Without Doing This First
File
With The EEOC Or Get A Lawyer? Call The Right Attorney
Should
I Get A Lawyer To Help Me File An EEOC Charge?
; and Should
I File With The EEOC On My Own? Call The Right Attorney
). Only then did Favorite Farms react to the allegations. The
investigation unveiled that Favorite Farms did not even have a policy in place
to handle sexual harassment complaints. Talk about dropping the ball. Favorite
Farms claimed that they mitigated the problem by terminating Cruz after the
EEOC charge. However, this is too little, too late.

On May 31, 2017, Eulalia sued Favorite Farms. Favorite Farms could not
really put up much of a fight, but regardless it argued that Eulalia did not
“experience” any retaliation after reporting her rape because she didn’t
experience an adverse employment action. WHAT? It is incomprehensible that they
would even attempt to argue that. Eulalia earned approximately $5,000 a year
and they suspended her for a few days without pay. The court held that a jury
could find that this is tangible harm despite the fact that Favorite Farms
later decided to reimburse her for some of the unpaid time. The judge shut down
that argument and let the case proceed to a jury trial.

The Florida jurors awarded
Eulalia $850,000 total, in damages. Ultimately, they found that she had been
sexually harassed by her supervisor and then fired for reporting Cruz as a
rapist. Specifically, the jury concluded that Favorite Farms failed to take
reasonable care to prevent or remedy the harassment. The jury awarded her
$150,000 for emotional suffering and $150,000 for punitive damages in relation
to the sexual harassment.

Next, the jury awarded damages
for Favorite Farms retaliation against Eulalia reporting her rapist. The jury
thought that her emotional suffering from the retaliation was worth $250,000
and awarded her an additional $250,000 in punitive damages. Lastly, the jury
found that Cruz had assaulted her and awarded her $50,000 in damages on that
claim.

Eulalia suffered irreparable
harm at the hands of her supervisor. It takes immeasurable courage to stand up
to abusers in the workplace. Eulalia is a great example for all of us.

Sexual
harassment
is unlawful under Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964
and similar Ohio laws. Sexual harassment
is a form of gender
discrimination
. If you feel that you are being
sexually harassed or are working in a sexually charged or hostile working
environment, you should not wait to call the right
attorney
to schedule a free and
confidential
consultation. At The Spitz Law Firm, you will meet with a
sexual harassment lawyer/hostile work environment attorney to find out what
your legal rights are and the best way to protect them. Sexual harrassment is a
form of gender discrimination, and employers should be held accountable if they
discriminate against female workers in any fashion – but particularly for
sexual harrassment. It does not matter if you have been wrongfully fired or are
still employed, there is no reason to wait to find out what your legal rights
are and how to protect yourself from sexual harassment and gender
discrimination. Call our office at 866-797-6040.

Can I Sue For Sexual Harassment?

Disclaimer:

The materials available at the top of this page and at
this gender discrimination, wrongful termination, and sex harassment law
website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of
providing legal advice. If you are still asking “what should I do if my boss
asked me to fuck him”, “I’m being sexually harassed and told to give oral sex
to my general manager” “my supervisor grabbed my ass”, “my boss keeping rubbing
against me,” “I’ve been wrongfully terminated,” or “how do I find
the top employment lawyer”, your best course is to contact
an Ohio sexual harassment attorney/hostile work environment lawyer
to obtain advice with respect to sexual
harassment/hostile work environment questions or any particular employment law
issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links
contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The
legal opinions expressed at the top of this page or through this employment law
website are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the
opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, Brian
Spitz
, or any individual attorney.