Business | Colorado-based hog producer Midwest Farms faces federal suit on sexual harassment claims

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Midwest Farms, which runs a large hog operation in Colorado, faces a lawsuit by federal officials over claims of sexually harassing and retaliating against female employees.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the business, based in Burlington, after complaints that a male manager entered the women’s dressing room at least three times without knocking.

People working closely with the animals must follow a biosecurity plan that requires them to take showers and wear work outfits provided by the company.

Another male manager regularly subjected women to vulgar sexual language and sexual propositions, according to the lawsuit. The EEOC said one woman was fired after telling management and human resources that she had been sexually harassed and given bad schedules and jobs because she rejected a manager’s sexual advances.

The federal agency said in a statement Friday that such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment, and retaliation for com­plaining about it.

A lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court of Colorado is seeking that policies and practices be put in place by Midwest Farms to prevent sexual harassment retaliation and that it require training for all managers, supervisors and employees. The EEOC’s is also requesting compensation covering the women’s financial losses as well as compensation for “emotional pain and suffering.”

An employee at Midwest Farms in Burlington said Friday that owner Dave Amundson was out of the office until next week and unavailable to talk. A request was left for comment from other managers.

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Midwest Farms’ website says the Burlington operation is on 9,000 acres and can accommodate a 21,000-sow herd. The company produces pigs to distribute to other producers, primarily in the Midwest.

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The Colorado Secretary of State’s office lists other business locations in Niwot and Wiley.

The EEOC said it went through a conciliation process with Midwest Farms to resolve complaints, but no agreement was reached. The agency then filed the lawsuit.

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