Judge dismisses lawsuit against Evans Fruit

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) - A federal judge in Yakima has dismissed the second of two lawsuits filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of orchard workers against Evans Fruit Co.

Ten orchard workers claimed that the Yakima-area fruit company, one of the largest apple growers in the country, had retaliated against them for meeting with representatives of the EEOC to pursue a claim alleging sexual harassment.

The EEOC sued the company in September 2011, alleging it violated federal law by retaliating against workers for cooperating in a federal discrimination investigation. Evans Fruit moved for dismissal in December 2012, arguing that the EEOC's claims lacked any basis in fact.

U.S. District Court Judge Lonny Suko on Friday granted Evans Fruit's motion to dismiss, saying the EEOC failed to present evidence that any of the workers had been threatened by anyone associated with Evans Fruit, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported Sunday ( http://is.gd/t18KhI).

The EEOC's lawsuit alleged that an Evans Fruit ranch manager sent two people to spy on a meeting the EEOC held with employees in 2010 at a Sunnyside public library.

The judge found that no reasonable juror could find in favor of the EEOC's claims, the newspaper reported.

The dismissal is the second blow to the EEOC.

Earlier this month, a federal jury rejected sexual harassment claims by 14 female orchard workers who said they had been subjected to a sexually hostile work environment while working for Evans Fruit. The EEOC had filed that case on behalf of the workers.

Some of the plaintiffs in that harassment case were party to the retaliation lawsuit dismissed Friday.

Suko said many of the claimants at the library meeting were not even aware that the two men were there or whether they had any connection with Evans Fruit.

"Without admissible evidence of threats, there is simply nothing to connect alleged pre-meeting and post-meeting acts of intimidation/retaliation with the library meeting," the judge wrote.

___

Information from: Yakima Herald-Republic, http://www.yakimaherald.com


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Top Stories

  • Seahawks Schedule
    The Seahawks have released the 2014 regular-season schedule

  • Save the Buses?
    A group is gathering signatures to save transit, but Michael Medved has another solution

  • 21 and Over
    If 21 is the legal age for alcohol and marijuana, why not cigarettes?
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know a student who stands out in the classroom, school and community?
Help make their dreams come true by nominating them for a $1,000 scholarship and a chance to earn a $10,000 Grand Prize. Brought to you by KIRO Radio and Comprehensive Wealth Management.

Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.