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Harassment among the orchids yields settlement in Oxnard

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

One of the largest orchid farms in the United States—Cyma Orchids in Oxnard—will pay $240,000 after the EEOC moved to root out an infestation of sexual harassment.

According to the EEOC, Cyma’s workforce, mostly Korean and Mexi­­can women, faced continual and pervasive harassment from male supervisors, including unwanted fondling of their breasts and buttocks and constant propositioning. The men allegedly made frequent disparaging remarks about the women’s national origin, telling Mexican women that they were “lazy” and “didn’t know their place.”

The EEOC investigated the claims and found that in at least one case, a worker was fired for speaking out against the ongoing harassment.

Under the settlement, Cyma will pay $200,000 to the victims. The farm’s former owner, Taean Orchids, will pay $40,000.

In addition to the money, the ­company entered into a 21/2-year consent decree that requires all supervisors to receive sexual har­­ass­­ment training. All harassment complaints must be re­­corded at a central office and supervisors will be held responsible for investigating the complaints.

Note: Workplaces where men supervise and women are subordinate are breeding grounds for sexual harassment lawsuits. It may be difficult to temper a male-dominated culture, but employers that don’t will face low morale—and high legal bills.

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