The ‘#metoo’ movement sparked cross-industry dialogue, illuminating the rampant sexual harassment within certain industries. While the Civil Rights Act of 1991 broadens the scope of available remedies to employees who endured sexual harassment in the workplace, the Act’s statutory cap on compensatory and punitive damages inadequately redresses survivors’ injuries and fails to encourage employers to implement and enforce sufficient workplace protections. The statutory cap impacts all employees who have viable sexual harassment claims; however, the statutory cap markedly affects women fieldworkers in the agricultural industry. The severe lack of adequate employee protections in conjunction with the vulnerabilities this workforce inhabits, make women fieldworkers highly susceptible to sexual harassment and prevents many from taking legal action, especially when there are limited remedies. This Note examines the limited federal remedies under the Civil Rights Act of 1991. First, this Note traces the development of labor protections, or lack thereof, for agricultural workers in the United States. Next, this Note identifies the legal problem at hand; specifically, the statutory cap on compensatory and punitive damages. This statutory cap uniquely affects survivors of sexual assault within the agricultural industry and aggravates certain vulnerabilities of fieldworkers, increasing the risk for sexual assault and decreasing the rate of reporting. Lastly, this Note discusses the removal of the statutory cap to eliminate the burden placed on survivors and to motivate agricultural employers to implement adequate protections for fieldworkers; this Note also proposes the enactment of a federal compensation board to financially aid survivors whose available relief fails to assuage the economic loss resulting from their injuries.
Sí, Se Puede: Why the Agricultural Industry’s “Mujeres Imparables” Fight for Adequate Legal Remedies for Survivors of Sexual Assault Matters,
61 Santa Clara L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.scu.edu/lawreview/vol61/iss2/5