A Lincoln County farm has settled a federal lawsuit brought against it by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming it had allowed men to sexually harass female seasonal harvesters and maintained a hostile work environment for women.

The County Fair Farm in Jefferson and the EEOC reached a settlement by agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Portland on Monday that will require the farm to undergo federal monitoring for the next four years.

The lawsuit filed in 2014 accused County Fair Farm of ignoring complaints by a longtime seasonal worker, Aurora Del Rosario Clemente Arpaiz, and other female workers that they had been groped against their will by a male supervisor or male workers and repeatedly propositioned for sex on the job. The EEOC first tried to settle the matter out of court, but filed suit when the two sides initially couldn’t reach an agreement.

The EEOC said at the time it filed the lawsuit that its investigation revealed that women at the farm had been sexually harassed going back to at least 2003 and that Arpaiz was not alone in being targeted.

“Unfortunately, many migrant workers suffer unlawful harassment and retaliation in silence, afraid of jeopardizing their jobs and their ability to provide for themselves and their families,” EEOC attorney Sara Smolik said in a written statement announcing the settlement. “We commend the lead claimant for the bravery she demonstrated by filing the discrimination charge with EEOC. This not only alerted us to long-standing abuse in this workplace, but led to this resolution, which requires County Fair Farm to put a stop to this misconduct.”

As part of the settlement, the farm agreed to set policies and procedures to prevent sexual harassment and retaliation. It also requires the farm to post anti-discrimination notices in English and Spanish and to provide employees with training to prevent sexual harassment and ensure workers are aware of their right to work in an environment free from unlawful discrimination in the future.


County Fair Farm, which has a seasonal staff of around 15 workers, has also agreed that it will no longer employ the alleged perpetrators of the sexual harassment. The settlement also requires the farm to create a $120,000 fund to compensate harassment victims identified by EEOC.

Arpaiz worked for the farm seasonally from 2007 until she quit in November 2012, after complaining repeatedly about sexual harassment and telling her employer that “she could not take the harassment any longer,” the EEOC said in the lawsuit.

Its complaint says: “During the 2012 growing season, Arpaiz’s supervisor slapped Arpaiz on the buttocks and frequently propositioned her for sex. This included sending Arpaiz graphic text messages describing sexual acts he wanted to perform on her. Arpaiz rejected these advances and told her supervisor not to touch her. … At night, her supervisor would often stand or sit outside the door of Arpaiz’s trailer and stare; Arpaiz would lock herself inside, refusing to let him in and afraid to leave the trailer herself.”

The complaint says that after she complained to management at the farm, the harassment by her male co-workers and her supervisor increased.

“This included referring to her as a ‘cry baby’ and telling her to ‘stop causing trouble.’ On one occasion … Arpaiz’s male co-workers abandoned her at a shopping center half an hour away from the farm, without means of getting back to the farm, in an effort to punish her for her complaints,” the lawsuit says.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:


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