Cow Palace settles with former employees over disability discrim - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Cow Palace settles with former employees over disability discrimination

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YAKIMA, WA - Ramiro Gonzalez and Juan Antonio Ramos have settled their cases with their former employer, Cow Palace. Both workers alleged that Cow Palace created a hostile work environment and unlawfully terminated them after they complained. Cow Palace denies the allegations. Jury trials will now be avoided because of a settlement agreement signed earlier in the month by both the workers and Cow Palace.

Both Gonzalez and Ramos worked for large local dairy Cow Palace for over 12 years. Both workers brought claims against their former employer under Washington's Law Against Discrimination, which prohibits hostile work environments and discriminatory treatment of employees based on their disabilities.

Gonzalez alleged that, soon after a work-related back injury in 2011, he was called demeaning names by his supervisor, Jesus Diaz on a regular basis. He alleged that he complained about the mistreatment to Jeff Boivin, the dairy's General Manager, in 2013. On December 16th, 2013, Boivin told Gonzalez that his position was being eliminated; Gonzalez alleged that the termination was in retaliation for complaining about Diaz.

Ramos alleged he endured years of on-the-job harassment based on his physical appearance by his supervisor Rosemary Salazar, and the family members she supervised. Ramos alleged he was born with a misshapen ear, jaw, and lip, and that his supervisor continuously mocked his appearance. Ramos alleges he was let go on December 16th, 2013, in retaliation for complaining about Salazar and for contacting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Both workers have settled their claims in a confidential agreement with Cow Palace.

"[W]orkers need to know they have the right to a workplace free from discrimination and should not be afraid to speak up if they are being harassed," Ramos said. "The only way to stop the harassment is by standing up and saying something, even if it means losing your job. If you speak up there are laws and lawyers that can help you. I hope that because of my case someone else will have the courage to stand up to harassment."

These cases are an important reminder to employers that disabled employees, including those returning from workplace injuries, are protected from real or perceived disabilities under the Washington Law Against Discrimination and that all workers are protected against retaliation for asserting their rights. The Northwest Justice Project and the Sheridan Law Firm represented the Plaintiffs. The Stokes Lawrence Velikanje Moore & Shore firm represented Defendant Cow Palace.