Being in the workforce can make Florida women feel independent and empowered. Taking part in working for income that provides for their families can bring a greater sense of closeness and bonding as they work in order to have a better ability to care for loved ones. Unfortunately, this feeling of empowerment and independence can be tainted when another person uses their power or authority to sexually harass someone else in the workplace. Sexual harassment is a widespread issue across many industries, but this problem is growing in abundance in the agricultural industry.
Women make up a large number of employees who work in the fields on farms, and there have been several accounts across the United States, including from farm workers in Florida, of people in positions of authority sexually harassing and raping female workers. One woman recalled a foreman picking her up from the fields earlier than the other employees, driving her out to a remote part of the farm and attempting to rape her. Luckily, she managed to fend him off, and he ceased his assault. This result is unfortunately not always common.
Though the cases of sexual harassment in produce fields are increasing, it is rare for many of those assaulted to come forward. A significant number of field workers are immigrants who are undocumented and fear deportation. They face the possibility of sexual assault almost daily in order to continue to provide for their families.
No one should be subject to sexual harassment anywhere, especially while trying to earn a living to support themselves and their families. There are employee rights that must be upheld and employment laws that must be followed. When these standards are violated, serious legal ramifications can follow a complaint. Anyone, including undocumented workers, who feel they have been violated in the workplace, may find looking into Florida employment laws beneficial in order to ensure safer working conditions.
Source: sfgate.com, "Female workers face rape, harassment in U.S. agriculture industry," Bernice Yeung and Grace Rubenstein, June 25, 2013