Wash. ag company forced to pay over $500K to victims of sexual harassment

Wash. ag company forced to pay over $500K to victims of sexual harassment

YAKIMA, Wash. -- "No woman in this state should be forced to accept sexual harassment as a condition of her employment," said Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Ferguson announced at the steps of the William O. Douglas United States Courthouse, that Washington state has had a victory.

He said Quincy-based agricultural company, Horning Brothers, will be forced to pay $525,000 to women who were sexually harassed, starting back in 2012.

Ferguson says the company not only allowed this to go on for years, but also engaged in discriminatory hiring and retaliated against workers who spoke up.

"Even after we notified Horning Brothers that we were investigating sexual harassment at their company, that harassment continued, unchecked, until we notified the company that we were filing a lawsuit," he said.

Seven of the sexual harassment victims stood in solidarity as Ferguson made his announcement.

One of them, Rosaura Hernandez, tells Action News how the Horning Brothers foreman, Hermilo Cruz, would take advantage of her and her coworkers.

She says he would even show up at her house.

"He would come in so close. I would move. He would come in closer. He would try to touch your behind, your sides," said Hernandez.

She says people at the company would tell them to keep their mouths shut, but finding the courage to speak up, saved them.

"They would tell them, ‘Oh, if you talk, nobody’s gonna listen.’ But they do. I'm here to tell anybody that’s going through that that they have a voice," said Hernandez.

Now, she has a message for anyone who thinks about using their position to abuse the vulnerable.

"This is a big message to all the foremen, all the people in charge, who think that they have power over women, that they don’t," said Hernandez.

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