Washington Organization Investigating Sexual Misconduct Complaints

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Washington Organization Investigating Sexual Misconduct Complaints

Board members at Casa Latina, a decades-old organization founded to empower immigrant workers and provide job and educational opportunities, has announced it will investigate the handling of sexual harassment and assault allegations at the company.

The board received complaints related to the allegations and “overall workplace culture” from current and former employees and people who come to the organization for job referrals, The Seattle Times reported Monday.

“An immediate next step includes retaining necessary and skilled experts to investigate and gather pertinent information, review practices and procedures and make a full report to the board of directors,” board members said in a statement.

Executive Director Marcos Martinez said several sexual misconduct allegations and complaints about disrespectful treatment were directed at one employee who recently left the organization. It is unclear if the person was fired.

Three women told The Times that they filed police reports against the former staffer this year, alleging behavior from verbal harassment to groping. The Seattle Police Department said two of the cases were given to the city attorney’s office for consideration of criminal charges. A review is ongoing. The former staffer declined to comment, The Times reported.

Current and former employees also claimed there were incidents involving some of the 220 men and women who sought day labor and housekeeping jobs through Casa Latina, officials said. Several people described being touched inappropriately at company events.

Board President Pilar Pacheco, a senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said Casa Latina has conducted sexual harassment training, and meetings have been devoted to the issue.

However, some have accused management of minimizing and downplaying the allegations.

“I am very disappointed with my leaders,” said Lucina Carrillo, an employee whose allegations prompted several protests, including outside Seattle offices. Carrillo and others, through a petition, have since called for Martinez and other leaders to resign. Martinez declined to be interviewed, The Times reported.

Martinez came to Casa Latina in 2016 from Entre Hermanos, an organization serving LGBTQ Latinos. He replaced Hilary Stern, who founded the organization in 1994. Last month, he said in a statement that he was attending meetings to listen to employees’ concerns. He also said the board plans to hire people to investigate this week and expects findings within 30 days.

Copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Topics
Washington

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