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DeCoster Farms Settles Suit

September 30, 2002

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ DeCoster Farms, a major U.S. producer of eggs, agreed Monday to pay nearly $1.5 million to 11 Mexican women who claimed they were raped by supervisors at company plants in northern Iowa.

The deal announced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission settles a discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of the workers in August 2001.

The suit claimed the women, who worked as egg packers at four plants in Wright County, were raped and abused by supervisors, who threatened to have them fired or killed if they did not submit. Identities of the women were not made public.

``We regret that any worker ever felt abused or harassed in the workplace and would never have tolerated such a situation had it been known,″ said Peter DeCoster, who oversees the company’s operations in Iowa.

Part of the settlement money will go to the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence. A call to the group seeking comment Monday was not immediately returned.

In January, the EEOC determined that some supervisors employed by DeCoster Farms sexually assaulted and harassed female employees. Some of the women were undocumented workers and were threatened with retaliation if they complained, the EEOC said.

In response, Decoster Farms has set up remedial policies, the EEOC said.

DeCoster Farms is owned by A.J. ``Jack″ DeCoster, who reached a $6 million settlement in May 2001 with hundreds of Mexican laborers at his operations in Maine who accused him of discrimination.


On the Net:

Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence: http://www.icadv.org/

EEOC: http://www.eeoc.gov/

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