Published in Food/Agribusiness

Herbruck Poultry Ranch reaches $93K settlement in EEOC lawsuit

BY Wednesday, December 11, 2019 10:46am

Egg producer Herbruck Poultry Ranch Inc. will pay $93,000 to settle a disability harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 

In addition to the monetary payment, the settlement includes revisions to Herbruck’s discrimination and harassment policies and training for all employees on the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to the EEOC. 

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“This is an incident from 2015 and we feel the settlement is the best way for our company and all parties involved to move forward,” Greg Herbruck, president of Herbruck’s, said in a statement to MiBiz

The company has a manager on staff who provides annual training on ADA policies to all employees, according to Herbruck. 

“We remain committed to supporting our employees, including those with disabilities and creating a positive culture of respect, kindness, compassion and teamwork,” Herbruck said.

The lawsuit, filed in March, involved the company’s treatment of Melinda Crooke, a line worker who worked for Herbruck’s. The EEOC charged that the company violated federal law by subjecting Crooke to a hostile work environment because of her disability and by retaliating against her for complaining about the discriminatory treatment, as MiBiz previously reported

According to the lawsuit, Crooke was frequently mocked by her supervisor and coworkers about her disability-related symptoms. Herbruck’s allegedly failed to correct the behavior and instead retaliated through intimidation and escalating harassment against Crooke for complaining, according to court documents. 

Representatives for Crooke acknowledged a request from MiBiz but declined to comment. 

Creating a hostile work environment because of a disability and retaliating against an employee for complaints about it violates the ADA.

Dale Price, the EEOC attorney who handled the case, said he is pleased with the final agreement between the two parties. 

“The revised policies and training provide meaningful protections for the employees of Herbruck from disability-based harassment,” he said in a statement. “With this resolution, Herbruck has taken a positive step towards protecting the rights of disabled employees in the workplace.”

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