Sexual Harassment And Wage Theft Rampant In California Agriculture Industry

Guadalupe Chavez, a former agriculture field worker in California, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her former employer, according to The California Report. Chavez made $245/week picking pomegranates in 2006, and when she went to collect her check one day, a supervisor initially withheld it from her. He asked her to meet him out in a field where he would hand over her paycheck—but the supervisor asked Chavez for her underwear in exchange for the check.

“He said…’I’m the supervisor, I’m in charge here,’” recalls Chavez. “And I remembered that he had told me that he had a gun in the truck. And so when he said that, and banged hard on the car with his hand, I thought, ‘He’s serious. If I don’t do what he says, he can kill me.’”

The supervisor proceeded to sexually assault Chavez. Chavez reported the missing check, and eventually the incident to a rural legal aid office in Fresno.

“Absolutely, I believed her,” said Kings County Police Officer Kris Zuniga. “Her story was consistent. It didn’t bounce from all over the place to all over the place.”

This is a terrifying and tragic account, but truth of the matter is that this type of harassment is more common than people think. Many of the victims are immigrants and scared to report the conduct.

“For one, they’re afraid they’re going to get deported,” said Zuniga. “Number two, word gets around to the other bosses in the valley that are also doing farm labor work. They’re going to say, ‘Don’t hire that person, don’t let them have a job because they are going to report something if something happens.’ They’ll never work out here again.”

Please contact our office immediately for a free consultation if you have ever experienced anything similar at work.

Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob—Los Angeles sexual harassment attorneys