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Spud Seller agrees to pay $255,000

Posted: Thursday, Feb 7th, 2013

MONTE VISTA—Spud Sellers Inc. has agreed to pay $255,000 in a sexual harassment case while denying all allegations made against the company.

The company will also provide training for non-supervisory and supervisory positions to try to prevent future instances of sexual harassment.

Other aspects of the decree will require that Spud Seller Inc. will not retaliate against the 10 women named in the case, covers how the company will respond if they are contacted as a reference for any of the women and others. They will not reemploy Mauricio Gaytan, who was accused of sexually harassing the women in the workplace.

A monitor, Mark Baird, has been chosen to oversee the implementation terms of the settlement agreement. He will report to all of the parties in the case throughout the three-year term of the agreement.

In 2010 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that women had been sexually harassed while employed at Spud Sellers. Maria Portillo, the original complainant, also known as Maria de Jesus Ramirez, was then represented by Colorado Legal Services attorneys. Nine more women came forward with complaints of sexual harassment and were included in the case.

The monetary award will be divided among the ten women with $50,000 of the total amount going to Portillo, $70,000 to Colorado Legal Services and the rest will be divided among the other women.

The claims against Spud Sellers, Inc. include an accusation that Gaytan had exposed himself to one woman and had texted sexually explicit cartoons and comments. Others said that he had made inappropriate comments. He was also accused of making comments about the women’s appearance.

When the original accusations were made there was a policy in the company’s handbook that prohibited sexual harassment, but that handbook was only printed in English. The policies then to have been explained to employees who only spoke Spanish, like Portillo.

Another part of the agreement will require them to provide those documents in Spanish, as well as English.

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