A proposed class action alleges Prima Frutta Packing and several related entities have unlawfully discriminated against certain agricultural workers on the basis of age, sex and national origin.
The 22-page lawsuit alleges the defendants—Prima Frutta Packing, Inc.; A. Sambado & Son, Inc.; Primavera Marketing, Inc.; Prima Noce Packing, Inc. and an individual supervisor—have harassed female Latina employees over the age of 40 by subjecting them to “insults and yelling” about their sex and age, bathroom monitoring, reduced or inconsistent scheduling, and isolation while declining to treat similarly situated male or younger workers the same way.
The suit alleges the defendants have violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act and Business and Professions Code.
According to the case, one of the defendants’ supervisors referred to the plaintiffs and similarly situated employees as “Viejas huevonas” (“Lazy old women”) and “yonques” (“junk/junkyard”), especially when they were not working as quickly as she wanted them to. The individual defendant is also alleged to have made “disparaging comments” toward older female employees, including by referring to the workers as “Mexican Donkeys” and other racist terms.
The lawsuit goes on to allege that the defendants monitored and limited bathroom access for older female workers and would frequently keep track of the time they spent in the bathroom, sometimes writing down the ID numbers of workers as they entered and exited the facilities. Per the complaint, one supervisor “knocked on stalls and told employees to hurry up” and sometimes looked under the bathroom stalls or held her cell phone under the stalls to “watch older females in the reflection of the screen.”
The plaintiffs further claim that supervisors would frequently punish older female employees for not working as quickly as they were expected to or for complaining to management. As punishment, the lawsuit says, the employees were sent to work in isolation or sent home early and told to come back when they were called, which many times resulted in the workers waiting days without pay before they were called back in to work, according to the case.
The defendants, the lawsuit alleges, also segregated workers based on their sex and employed women in positions that generally required fewer hours and therefore commanded lower pay.
According to the case, although a “large group” of the defendants’ workers submitted complaints in 2014 and 2018, the complaints were made “to no avail.”
The lawsuit looks to represent all non-exempt female workers employed by any defendant at any time within the past four years and through the final disposition of this action. Also proposed are two sub-classes of female employees over age 40 and Latina female employees who fit the same criteria.
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