$17.4 Million Verdict for Sexually Harassed Female Workers

Posted By on Oct 21, 2015 | 0 comments

Gilpin Law has successfully handled job harassment & pregnancy discrimination for 30 years

VERDICT: $17,425,000

COURT: U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, Miami

imb0741302Four (4) women of Mexican descent (Sandra Lopez, 40, Maria Aguilar, 21, Brigida Gomez-Velasquez, 26, and Ana Francisco, 18) and one woman of Guatemalan descent (Ligia Martinez, 40), from late 2011 to early 2012, worked as vegetable graders and packers at the Moreno Farms’ packaging facility in Florida. The owner’s two sons, along with a line supervisor, directly supervised the five women.

The women claimed to have experienced systematic sexual assault in the form of propositions and groping from the three male supervisors and if they failed to acquiesce to the advances, they were threatened with firing. The women filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

The EEOC filed suit against Moreno Farms under Title VII and the women intervened with their own lawyer also alleging violations of Title VII and violations of state law for assault, battery and a hostile work environment. The women sought compensatory damages for emotional pain and mental anguish, as well as punitive damages.

At trial, the women testified about repeated occurrences of sexual abuse by the supervisors and retaliatory conduct. For example, Maria Aguilar suffered frequent unwelcome sexual comments and inappropriate touching. Aguilar said she finally had sex with the supervisor because she was afraid of losing her job. Later, he insisted she have sex with his brother. When Aguilar refused, she was fired. Lopez also testified about unwelcome advances. When Lopez rejected them, she was raped and fired.

The women alleged severe physical and emotional trauma as a result of the supervisors’ conduct, which persists. They described suffering flashbacks of the assaults, increased fear, sleep deprivation and depression. Francisco and Aguilar testified they became afraid of all men, and Francisco required counseling.

At the conclusion of a one-day trial, the jury awarded Lopez $3,450,000; Aguilar $3,750,000; Gomez-Velasquez $3,500,000; Francisco $3,375,000 and Martinez $3,350,000. Each individual award included $3 million in punitive damages.


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