The winery and its parent company, The Wonderful Company, have been sued for sexual harassment
PASO ROBLES — Justin Vineyards and Winery LLC along with its parent company, The Wonderful Company LLC, is being sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for sexual harassment and retaliation.
The EEOC announced on Aug. 25 that they are suing the winemaker and its parent company for allowing sex-based harassment at their Paso Robles location, off Chimney Road.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, male managers at both the winery’s production and restaurant locations in Paso Robles were allowed to sexually harass female employees on a daily basis, beginning at least as early as 2017. The harassment came from unwanted and repeated sexual advances, sexual comments, and sexually offensive conduct, including unwelcome physical contact.
The EEOC’s press release states “Despite receiving complaints, Justin Vineyards & Winery LLC and The Wonderful Company LLC failed to properly investigate the complaints or take adequate steps to prevent the ongoing sexual harassment. Instead, some female employees who complained faced retaliation or were forced to leave the workplace.”
The suit (EEOC v. Justin Vineyards & Winery LLC, et al., Case No. 2:22-cv-06039) was filed by EEOC in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process. They are seeking monetary damages for the claimants including compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief against the company to prevent such unlawful conduct in the future.
“Employers who fail to take action to address sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace create an environment that encourages this behavior. As a result, employees may be hesitant to voice their complaints; however, they have protections under federal law,” said Christine Park-Gonzalez, acting district director for the EEOC Los Angeles District.
Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, whose jurisdiction includes Paso Robles, added, “Complaints of sexual harassment and retaliation continue to persist across industries. Employees deserve a workplace that is free of such conduct. The EEOC will continue to protect workers and ensure companies address complaints properly and prioritize accountability.”
The Pacific Coast’s Business Times‘ recent article on the lawsuit has an attached copy of the lawsuit’s court document.
According to the case document, defendants 1-10 will remain nameless, referred to as DOE. Additionally, the document further describes the sexual behavior which occurred:
The supervisors’ conduct included, but was not limited to, unwanted sexual touching of the buttocks, waist and breasts, rubbing of genitals on female subordinate employees, unwanted hugging and kissing, forcible kissing on the mouth, grabbing on the hands, snapping of bra straps, nibbling on the ear, biting on the shoulder, exposure of male employees’ private body parts, texting inappropriate photos, and stroking employees’ hair.
The above excerpt is just a portion of the inappropriate behavior that occurred.
It is unclear how many women are a part of the lawsuit. Paso Robles Press has reached out to Rachel Ostroff, The Wonderful Company’s manager for corporate communications, and received the following statement:
“JUSTIN strongly denies it did anything improper and intends to defend against this filing. Beyond that, we do not comment on matters of litigation.”
This is a developing story that Paso Robles Press will be following and providing updates as more information is available.