Immigrant female farm workers are among the most vulnerable and sexually exploited group of workers in Pennsylvania and the nation. Their work is hard and their pay is low. In addition to the physical exhaustion of working in the field in all weather conditions, they are the target of sexual violence and gender discrimination in the workplace. They suffer constant sexual abuse, sexual assault, rape, offensive remarks of sexual nature, inappropriate touching and grabbing from their male co-workers and supervisors on a daily basis.
Many of these women have traveled far and taken great risks to build a better life for their families. Often, however, they are forced to subdue to rape, brutal sexual assault and many sexual advances in order to obtain even a small measure of economic security. Immigrant female farm workers rarely report rape and sexual assault because of fear of retaliation. They do not know their rights. They often fear that reporting abuses will lead to job loss and, in some cases, deportation and separation from their children. As a result, they suffer in silence, cut off from any medical help, law enforcement and social services.
In the farm working field, gender oppression is common; women are viewed as sexual objects and victims of sexual assault get threats of retaliation if they disclose rape and abuse.
According to the Human Rights Vote Report "Cultivating Fear", out of 150 farmworker women in California's Central Valley 80 percent had experienced some form of sexual abuse, including assault and rape. One of the reasons rape and sexual assault are not reported is because the victim fears deportation. The agricultural industry relies heavily on unauthorized immigrants, who make up about 50 percent of the workforce. In the majority of sexual assault cases, the male supervisors told the victims that if they reported the assault, they would be fired and deported.
Female farm workers should know their rights. The do have a right to be free from sexual assault and rape in the workplace. They can also sue the perpetrator of the sexual assault and the farm or a packing factory employing him. Notwithstanding their illegal status, once hired, illegal immigrants enjoy many of the same rights and protections as their legal co-workers under state and federal labor laws. Court are determined to hold employers accountable and to protect workers, regardless of their status. For example, illegal immigrants are employees under the National Labor Relations Act and are entitled to statutory protections for labor organizing and related activities. Illegal immigrants are also protected by Title VII, allowing them to assert claims against their employers for sex discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation. Undocumented workers are covered by the federal employment discrimination statutes and it is as illegal for employers to discriminate against them as it is to discriminate against individuals authorized to work in the United States.
Female farm workers who have been raped, sexually assaulted and harassed in the workplace may file a civil lawsuit against their employer and recover compensation for their injuries. If the employer fires the victim of sexual assault, sex discrimination or sex abuse, the employer may be additionally liable for retaliation. The Lassen Law Firm is dedicated to helping female immigrant farm workers avoid further sexual assault and get money damages for their losses. The Lassen Law Firm appeals to all female farmworkers to speak with an experienced farmworker sexual assault attorney confidentially to learn about their rights.
Our dedicated farmworker sexual assault lawyers will help you recover compensation, stop the abuse and begin the road to recovery. Our consultations are free and confidential. Let the Lassen Law Firm help you stop the abuse and get you the compensation to which you are entitled.