2 Tri-Cities companies to pay $470K after farmworkers reported rapes, harassment

Two Pasco companies will pay $470,000 to resolve a lawsuit alleging multiple rapes and sexual harassment of their female farmworkers by a supervisor.

The companies, Greenridge Farms and Baker Produce, retaliated against the women who spoke up, including a woman who reported to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office that she had been raped multiple times, according to the Washington state Office of the Attorney General.

Both companies are large farming operations formerly owned by Frank Tiegs, a potato grower who was one of the largest land owners in Eastern Washington until his death in February.

The defendants in the civil rights lawsuit by the Washington state attorney general deny all liability, according to a consent decree filed Monday in Franklin County Superior Court.

The money paid by the companies will all go to four women who reported assaults and harassment by Antonio “Junior” Garcilazo dating back to 2018. He was fired in March 2024, according to the AG.

The women said that when they reported or threatened to report Garcilazo or rejected his harassment, retaliation followed, including reduced hours, negative performance reviews and being fired.

“These companies knew that this manager was harassing and assaulting their employees, but did not stop it,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “He abused his authority over these women for sexual favors.”

The Attorney General’s office learned of the complaints against the two companies through the Northwest Justice Project in June 2023.

Allegations against farm companies

According to the Office of Attorney General the complaints included claims that:

One worker said she was taken to isolated locations in fields and orchards where she was raped and also was hit and had her hair pulled. After years of abuse, she filed a complaint with her employer, but believed Garcilazo received only a verbal warning.

Her hours were reduced significantly after she filed the complaint. She reported the rapes to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, but no charges have been filed at this time.

A second woman wanting a job was sexually harassed over the phone after she was introduced to Garcilazo. He later showed up at her home uninvited and demanded sex. Fearing he would become violent, she complied.

Soon after, he had the woman come to the worksite to learn how to do the job. There he raped her. She later was hired by Baker Produce, and Garcilazo continued to call her asking for sex. She filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and was fired within two months.

A third woman repeatedly rebuffed Garcilazo’s request for dates. He demanded oral sex from her after he loaned her $20.

She tried to pay the $20 back but he continued to demands he repay him with a sexual act. When she threatened to file a complaint with company supervisors, he began giving her bad work performance reviews.

A fourth woman said Garcilazo frequently made unwanted sexual advanced, including asking or sex in exchange for extra hours and overtime.

He would show her graphic videos on his phone, comment about her body and attempt to touch her. She said he bragged about having sex with other workers at the farm.

Requirements for 2 farm companies

Under the terms of the consent decree, Greenridge Farms and Baker Produce may not rehire Garcilazo.

They are required to institute new policies to prevent discrimination and sexual harassment that encourage employees to come forward with complaints.

The policies must include procedures that allow making anonymous complaints in the worker’s primary language.

Anti-discrimination training, with a focus on handling sexual harassment complaints, is required of managers and supervisors annually.

Workers must receive training on the prohibition of workplace harassment, discrimination or retaliation annually or at the beginning of the season for seasonal employees.