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$1.5 million harassment cost for Madera, Calif., company

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

One of the nation’s largest dried fruit processors, Z Foods in Madera, Calif., has agreed to pay $1,470,000 to settle sexual harassment and retaliation charges leveled in an EEOC lawsuit filed on behalf of women who worked there and male employees who supported their complaints.

According to the EEOC, two supervisors incessantly harassed female workers, stalked and groped them and demanded sexual favors in return for promotions.

Male and female employees who complained about the ongoing harassment were fired.

In April 2015, the company signed a five-year settlement agreement that cost it $313,000 and required training for supervisors. The pact also required Z Foods to report any new harassment allegations directly to the EEOC. Because the new violations occurred during the settlement agreement’s term, the federal judge hearing the case awarded the maximum amount allowable under the law.

Note: Employers that sign settlement agreements must make real changes in workplace culture. Otherwise, regulators will take a much larger bite of company profits a second time.

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