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Napa Vineyard Workers Fired For Demanding Seperate Women's Bathroom Settle Lawsuit For $65K

NAPA (CBS SF) -- Eight farmworkers and a Napa Valley vineyard owner, management company and labor contractor have settled a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit involving the lack of a separate bathroom for female workers at the Napa vineyard.

Two women and six men who supported them filed the suit against Alsace Co. LP, the owner of the vineyard, the vineyard manager Jeff Roberts of Farm West LLC, the vineyard management company and Prime Harvest Contracting, the farm labor contractor, said Karen Carrera, the attorney for the farmworkers.

The eight workers alleged they were fired from their jobs in June 2013 at the 38-acre vineyard after repeatedly requesting a second portable bathroom for the female workers as required by law, Carrera said.

The workers were told by Prime Harvest Contracting and Farm West, LLC that male farmworkers were preferred at vineyards in Napa County, Carrera said.

"They said they preferred the men stay and that a lot of other vineyards don't hire women," Carrera said.

The eight farmworkers worked about a week before they were fired after repeated requests for a separate bathroom, Carrera said.

The original work crew had 13 people sharing one bathroom, Carrera said.

The parties settled the complaint after mediation in Berkeley on March 12, and all parties signed the agreement by Wednesday, Carrera said.

READ MORE: Napa Winemaker Embroiled In $800K Dispute Was Unraveling Before He Shot Silicon Valley Investor, Self

The settlement includes $65,000 for the workers and significant changes in the companies' future business practices related to hiring women and training and providing adequate toilet facilities, according to the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

"We are gratified that this group of farmworkers came forward and we were able to negotiate a just resolution," said DFEH Director Kevin Kish.

As part of the settlement, Farm West, LLC will change its policy to allow hiring of women, report all company hires during the next three years and receive training on anti-discrimination laws, DFEH spokeswoman Fahizah Alim said.

Prime Harvest Contracting agreed to train its staff and ensure crews have adequate restroom facilities at all work locations, Alim said.

Alsace Co. LP agreed to ensure women are not discriminated against in hiring and employment in its vineyards and to provide adequate toilet facilities, Alim said.

© Copyright 2015 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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