SMOKIN’ SPUDS GOES DOWN IN FLAMES « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


Potato Packing Plant Will Pay $450,000 to Settle Sex Harassment Lawsuit

Colorado potato packing plant operator Smokin’ Spuds and Farming Technology Inc. recently settled a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit brought by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of more than a dozen women. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the plaintiffs’ supervisor repeatedly engaged in sexually inappropriate actions including making sexual comments and gestures, propositioning the women, and touching them on their buttocks and breasts. The EEOC asserted the women were either ignored or fired after complaining to management.

According to the EEOC’s October 7, 2015 press release, the settlement requires the defendants to pay $450,000 in monetary relief; provide extensive training for employees, supervisors and human resources officials on employment discrimination laws; write apology letters to the affected women; post a notice of employees’ rights to be free of harassment and retaliation; distribute equal employment opportunity policies in English and Spanish; and terminate the accused supervisor.

EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill observed, “This type of misconduct that is allowed to go on over a period of several years – with a number of different women experiencing a gauntlet of harassment from the same supervisor – has no place in the workplace. We believe that our lawsuit and the significant relief obtained in this settlement will send the message, not only to the defendants, but to the entire produce packing industry, that EEOC will not tolerate this kind of abuse – or retaliation for complaining about it.”

Although employers are generally aware that sexual harassment is unlawful, such claims continue to be on the rise. As covered in our blog “Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Required for 2015,” California employers with 50 or more employees/independent contractors must provide two hours of sex harassment prevention training to all California supervisors within six months of hire or promotion and every two years thereafter. For the tremendous negative impact improper conduct can create in the workplace, all supervisors and employees should receive periodic harassment prevention training, regardless of company size.

Many California employers face a December 31, 2015 to complete this required, every-other-year training and education for its managers. We offer our live interactive seminar:

At your location: For larger companies, we are now setting dates through December, 2015 to provide on-site seminars for a flat fee.

Two scheduled sessions in Pasadena: We are providing half-day sessions on Friday, October 30, 2015 and Friday, November 20, 2015 at the Pasadena Senior Center. The fee is $65 per attendee, places secured by advance reservation.

For more information, please contact

Cindy Bamforth, October 16, 2015