No free pass to sexually harass undocumented workers!
CALIFORNIA – There is no free pass to sexually harass undocumented workers in the workplace. In 2013, PBS’s Frontline aired a documentary “Rape in the Fields” which detailed the pervasive culture of sexual harassment and gender discrimination that undocumented workers face on a daily basis. Many of these individuals never report the sexual harassment for fear that they may be deported. Further, because of cultural differences, language barriers and a general lack of familiarity with American Laws, many of these individuals leave themselves vulnerable to criminal sexual assault at the hands of co-workers and supervisors. Kimberly Prado, a Latina Graduate student at UC Berkeley, has dedicated her research to show how deep the problem agricultural workplace sexual harassment really is.
Prado’s research focuses on the attitudes, perspectives, beliefs, and experiences of the men and women who routinely suffer workplace sexual harassment. As women become an increasingly crucial part of the agricultural workplace, Prado hopes her research will improve the education and prevention policies of these companies that employ undocumented workers.

According to Prodo’s findings, women represent roughly 28% of US farmworkers, and, as of 2014, 26% of California farmworkers specifically. According to reports, many of these women face rape, stalking, unwanted touching, exhibitionism, and vulgar and obscene language used by co-workers and supervisors. Because of cultural differences, outside of the most heinous of acts, many women don’t realize they were victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a very serious issue and is a clear violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Law of 1964. Sexual harassment often takes two forms, quid pro quo, and hostile work environment.

Under a quid pro quo theory of sexual harassment, an employer is liable for sexual harassment if the privileges and benefits of a job, including having a job itself, is predicated on the employee acquiescing to the sexual advances of a supervisor or coworker. The company will be held liable if the individual making the sexual request is a supervisor, or if the employee reports the sexual harassment to the employer and the employer takes no action, or is negligent in the action it does take.

Under the hostile work environment theory of sexual harassment, sexual harassment is defined as conduct of a sexual nature so severe and pervasive that a reasonable individual would find the work environment hostile. An employer is liable for the conduct if the hostile work environment is created by a supervisor or the employee reports the sexual conduct and the employer is negligent in the action they take to correct the behavior.

Fortunately, UC-Berkley is partnering with the University Of San Nicola De Hidalgo in Michoacán, Mexico, Lieders Campinas, and various community leaders to provide services for these undocumented and migrant workers.
Many undocumented workers fear they are not protected by Title VII, however, in Espinoza v Farah Mfg. Co., the Supreme Court held that Title VII was clearly intended to apply with respect to the employment of aliens inside any state. Further, in EEOC v. Switching Systems Division of Rockwell Int’l Corp., held that n Title VII protections extend to aliens who may be in this country legally or illegally.

Immigration and sexual harassment weave a tangled web. The experienced sexual harassment attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC, have years of experience litigating claims of sexual harassment on behalf of undocumented workers. Working together with our Philadelphia sexual harassment attorneys, we have recovered hundreds of thousands in relief for our clients who have been the victims of workplace sexual harassment. If you feel like you have been sexually harassed in the workplace, documented or undocumented, please give us a call at 800-807-2209 for your free consultation.