Willamette Tree Wholesaler to Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

According to Oregon Live, a tree farm in Molalla has agreed to pay $150,000 to four farm workers after the company failed to respond to reports of sexual harassment and assault by two of its employees, but retaliated against one of the victims, her husband and another co-worker on the farm.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said that two sisters who worked at Willamette Tree Wholesale, Inc. between 2005 and 2008 were subject to sexual harassment. The harassment was so severe that a judge extended a 300-day statute of limitations to allow the complaint to go forward, according to documents.

One of the sisters claims she was taken to a remote location on the farm by a supervisor and sexually assaulted. The supervisor allegedly threatened her with pruning shears and termination, as well as bodily harm, as he proceeded to assault her over a period of several months. The other sister was allegedly subjected to sexual comments, propositions and physical touching by the same supervisor and a crew leader. The EEOC said the company did nothing when the occurrences were reported and ultimately fired the woman, her husband and another close relative who worked at the farm. The first sister was also terminated after reporting her claims, but the company did nothing when a co-worker reported the incidents.

The former employees could not be identified by the local paper as they were victims of sexual assault. The owner of Willamette Tree Wholesaler said that he has settled the case rather than continuing to fight the EEOC, even though he felt the complaints were false.

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