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Dole Food Unit Settles Discrimination Lawsuit

<i> Compiled by Jack Searles</i>

Buenaventura Lemon Co., a Saticoy-based unit of Dole Food Co., will pay $265,000 to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit, according to an attorney representing plaintiffs in the case.

Buenaventura’s immediate parent, Dole Citrus Co., a Dole Food subsidiary, will revise its personnel policies and pay more than $500,000 to settle the case, according to the lawyer, Valeriano Saucedo of Visalia.

Another Dole unit, Central Valley Citrus of Terra Bella, will also pay $265,000.

In addition, Dole will pay $12,500 to California Rural Legal Assistance of Oxnard, Saucedo said.

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Saucedo represented seven women who filed suit but said up to 200 women may share in the proceeds.

Two of the plaintiffs are from Ventura County. They are Beatriz Quezada and Imelda Serrato. As many as 100 Ventura County residents may benefit from the settlement.

The lawsuit contended that the two Oxnard women applied for jobs at Buenaventura Lemon and were never called back for interviews. After learning that the jobs had gone to men, they filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

According to the complaint, the women were then offered jobs, but were fired 12 days later for undisclosed reasons.

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The settlement requires both packinghouses to guarantee that women will make up at least 20% of the work force.

The plants also agreed to change work assignment rules and offer promotions based on seniority.

A U. S. District Court judge in Los Angeles must approve the settlement.

Dole officials did not respond to inquiries about the settlement.

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