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CenCal Saleswoman Wins Sexual Harassment, Retaliation Lawsuit

A jury awarded $1.2 million to Julie Fagundes, a former saleswoman for CenCal Beverage Company in Ceres. According to her lawsuit, Fagundes was sexually harassed in the workplace and despite complaining about the treatment, her supervisors did nothing to stop the unwelcome attention. Coworkers and supervisors called her names, groped her and subjected her to pornography.

Michael Bononi, of Bononi Law Group, represented Fagundes in her sexual harassment lawsuit against CenCal. “We are very happy with the jury verdict,” he commented. Of his client’s loyalty to CenCal, he noted, “She started there when she was 22 years old. It was pretty much the only job she’d ever had.”

Fagundes had worked for CenCal and its predecessor, L&M Distributors, for 10 years, starting with the company in 2001. The workplace harassment began when L&M merged with B&W to form CenCal. On the night of the merger, an operations manager referred to Fagundes as “a stupid b**ch” to other employees and further commented that “skirts don’t belong in this business.”

She brought her complaints to then CenCal president, Dan Dinsmore, who assured her that he would take care of it. But he did nothing and the harassment continued. Fagundes sent Dinsmore a letter detailing her complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace, but rather than investigate her complaints, Dinsmore shared the letter with other CenCal employees and told Fagundes she should not be so sensitive.

No one in the company had been through sexual harassment training and no one in the company would take a stand to help stop the harassment that Fagundes was experiencing.

Fagundes is relieved that the lawsuit is over. She suffers from post-traumatic-stress disorder based on the treatment she received at her former place of employment. CenCal confidentially settled the remaining issue – punitive damages – with Fagundes.

Source: The Modesto Bee, “Ceres-based CenCal will pay millions in lawsuit,” Patty Guerra, May 17, 2012

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