Burbank Berry Farm to Pay $350K In Sexual Assault Settlement
In the wake of a civil rights action, a Burbank WA berry farm will pay some $350,000 to the Washington State Attorney General's office to be dispersed among a group of female victims at the Great Columbia Berry Farm.
Information released Monday by the AG's office says between 2012 and 2019 Supervisor Jose Luis Contreras Ramirez sexually harrassed, assaulted and even raped some female workers; often threatening them with termination as he had supervisory powers. Some workers who were fired but got jobs back were threatened by him to not complain to management or he would fire them again.
Finally, after Ramierez was arrested in connection with one of these assaults in Walla Walla County, the AG's office began a civil action againstt the Great Columbia Berry Farm, a 136 acre facility near Burbank.
According to the AG's office:
"In October 2019, Contreras was arrested for sexual assault charges in a criminal proceeding in Walla Walla County in connection with the rape of one of the women he supervised. He has not worked at Great Columbia Berry Farms since his arrest."
The AG's office says the consent decree stipulates a number of business-worker practices that will be mandated from here going forward. The AG's office held the farm responsible because the firm knew about the complaints, but did nothing to prevent or stop them.
The decree includes paying the money, which the AG's office says will be used to compensate the female victims.
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