The primary reason most people do not speak up when they witness illegal activity in the workplace is because they fear repercussions. They are often afraid, and rightly so, that they may be terminated, be denied opportunities or retaliated against in other ways. The good news is that federal law protects employees against retaliation on this very basis when employees have complained about unlawful activity at their workplace. What some people do not realize, however, is that this protection extends to situations where an employee complains on behalf of someone other than themselves.
Historical sexual harassment problems at Zoria Farms
It was reported that two male supervisors at Zoria Farms were known for pressuring female employees into giving them sexual favors in exchange for promotions. They also reportedly stalked female employees and engaged in hugging, kissing and others forms of unwanted touching. The women complained to management about the sexual harassment, but no action was taken to remedy the situation. In addition to the reports by the harassed females, several male employees also complained about the sexual harassment they personally witnessed against the women.
Zoria Farms was purchased by Z Foods
At some point, Zoria Farms was purchased by Z Foods. At that point, the harassing male supervisors took the opportunity to get rid of the complaining employees. Indeed, 7 of the 10 employees who complained were not offered jobs by the new employer. These 10 employees, both male and female, then complained to the EEOC, which subsequently sued both the former and current employers.
Settlement of the sexual harassment case
The case against Zoria was settled in 2015, with the employees receiving $330,000. The lawsuit against Z Foods, however, proceeded to trial and the company lost. In that case, the court awarded the employees $1.4 million, which is the maximum amount allowed by law, taking into account the previous settlement amount. Z Foods is also required to submit to EEOC oversight for the next five years.
The purpose of an employment discrimination case is to make the victim whole or put them back in the same position they were in, or should have been in, had discrimination not occurred. There are several types of damages a victim can receive, including economic damages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and liquidated damages. However, there may be limitations regarding which type of damages you may be entitled to and how much you could receive.
If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination or retaliation, or if you have any questions regarding your employment rights, please contact Wrady & Michel, LLC, either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880.