Sunburst Farms Irrigation District Settles Sexual Harassment Claim

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(Photo by Tim Evanson/Creative Commons)

The Sunburst Farms Irrigation District has entered into a consent decree in order to resolve a sexual harassment and hostile work environment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office Civil Rights Division.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, a female employee of Sunburst Farms Irrigation filed a charge with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office’s (AGO) Civil Rights Division (CRD). She alleged that a Sunburst supervisor subjected her to unwelcome and inappropriate sex-based comments and conduct for several years.

On February 1, 2019, the AGO’s CRD filed a lawsuit alleging Sunburst Farms Irrigation District violated the ACRA when it subjected a female employee to different terms, conditions, and privileges of employment because of her sex. The CRD alleged that Sunburst failed to address, let alone remedy, a long established pattern of pervasive sexual harassment by a male supervisor.

Under the terms of the consent decree, in addition to a separate financial settlement with the employee, Sunburst Farms Irrigation District agrees to:

  • Hire an independent qualified human resources management organization to oversee Sunburst Farms Irrigation District’s employment related decisions, including allegations of sexual harassment, hostile work environment, sex discrimination, and retaliation. The independent qualified human resources management individual or organization will have authority to receive, evaluate, investigate, and issue determinations about employment-related complaints in compliance with federal and state law including the ACRA.
  • Remove supervisory authority from the individual alleged to have engaged in unlawful sexual harassment until he completes mandatory training pursuant to the consent decree. Further, the individual will no longer supervise the position held by the female employee. Additionally, he is enjoined from training any of Sunburst Farms Irrigation District’s employees on its policies.
  • Establish employment and anti-harassment policies to include, in addition to other provisions, a strong and clear commitment to a workplace free of unlawful harassment and unlawful sex discrimination and procedures for reporting unlawful discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. Sunburst Farms Irrigation District shall distribute the policies and procedures to all current officers, employees, Board of Directors, managers, supervisors, and agents and those hired, appointed, or elected in the future.
  • Provide training to its officers, employees, supervisors, managers, and Board of Directors and those hired, appointed, or elected during the term of the consent decree on Sunburst Farms Irrigation District’s anti-harassment, anti-discrimination, and anti-retaliation policies and procedures and harassment, hostile work environment, sex discrimination and retaliation under the ACRA and federal employment laws.
  • Keep posted in a conspicuous location an Equal Employment Opportunity poster at all locations it maintains and operates in Arizona.
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