California farmworkers rely on ALRB in an employment dispute

When an employee is being sexually harassed and her or his employer is doing nothing about it, there are options available outside of the company to resolve the problem. There are several state and federal offices, such as the EEOC, that can handle an employment dispute. For farmworkers in California, there is one more option -- the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB).

California is the only state in the union that has such a court for resolving disputes between farmworkers and their employers. According to some, that's a good thing because farmworkers seem to be taken advantage of more often than not. Many of the workers in California tend to be Mexican immigrants that are undocumented. Supervisors believe this gives them some sort of power over the workers.

One woman filed the first sexual harassment claim with the ALRB recently. She claims that while she was working at the farm, she was subjected to sexual harassment from the first day on the job. She has even accused her supervisor of being grossly inappropriate on several occasions. The woman claims to have been fired when she complained about his behavior. The company denies the allegations.

Even though the ALRB doesn't make monetary awards as other courts do, it can give her back pay since she complained on the behalf of other parties if the employment dispute is decided in her favor. Every employee has the right to work in an environment free from sexual harassment. Farmworkers have an extra place to turn that knows the industry. It will be interesting to follow this first sexual harassment case and see how it turns out.

Source: The California Report, "ALRB provides unique way to resolve disputes between growers and farmworkers," Sasha Khokha, July 1, 2013

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