Michigan Egg Producer Pays Settlement to Farmworker Survivor of Sexual Assault

Workers who have questions about their rights can call MIRC’s free confidential Farmworker and Immigrant Worker hotline at 800-968-4046. 

Reported by MIRC

Michigan egg producer Konos, Inc. (Konos) has paid a major financial settlement to compensate “Jane Doe,” a client of the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC), ending a sex discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the Western District of Michigan. MIRC’s client was allowed by the court to maintain anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the events at issue in the case. As a condition of settlement, Konos also entered into a consent decree with the EEOC for three years, requiring them to train their workforce and management on sexual harassment, post notices for all employees at their egg processing plants on the existence of the case and the right to a sexual harassment-free workplace, and self-report sexual harassment complaints to the EEOC.   

The Michigan Immigrant Rights Center represented the female farmworker who intervened to join the lawsuit and added two individual Defendants and state law claims under Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. 

MIRC’s client suffered repeated sexual advances by her male supervisor which escalated to sexual assault. When MIRC’s client went to Konos management to complain, instead of taking any steps to protect her, they sent her home. The male supervisor was eventually criminally prosecuted and convicted of the charges. Konos employed their corporate attorney to represent the male supervisor in criminal court while continuing to represent Konos during the EEOC investigation and the civil litigation. During both the criminal and civil proceedings, Konos’ attorney attempted to use Jane Doe’s immigration status against her and as a defense against the company’s liability but was unsuccessful in deterring Jane Doe from seeking justice. 

“Sexual harassment and assault in agriculture is a pervasive and invisible problem with many immigrant survivors too scared to come forward and report due to concerns about immigration status being used against them,” said MIRC supervising attorney Diana Marin. “The weaponizing of immigration status by employers and defense counsel against our immigrant communities must end. It took incredible courage for our client to not only report the abuse, but also to see through a protracted legal battle against a multi-million dollar egg producer. We hope this case sends the message that sexual harassment and assault will not be tolerated and there are recourses for immigrant survivors who work in agriculture and experience harassment in the workplace.”  

For more information on sexual harassment, visit https://www.eeoc.gov/sexual-harassment

For more information on retaliation, visit https://www.eeoc.gov/retaliation.

Survivors of sexual assault and abuse can call the State of Michigan’s free and confidential 24/7 hotline at 855-VOICES4 or by texting 866-238-1454.

Workers who have questions about their rights can call MIRC’s free confidential Farmworker and Immigrant Worker hotline at 800-968-4046. 

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