Sexual Harassment Prevention

Projects | Resources | Research

This project was created in response to concerns voiced by farmworker health and social service providers about the occupational health risks of women agricultural workers, as well as increased media and legal attention regarding sexual harassment in the agricultural workplace. The hidden nature of this issue profoundly impacts women’s ability to work safely in agriculture. The agricultural industry also shares its concern about the lack of culturally-appropriate educational resources available to address this problem. The overall objective of this project is to examine and address sexual harassment as an occupational health hazard in the Washington agricultural workforce. The short-term goals of this project are to: 1) develop educational and informational products that address sexual harassment in the agricultural workplace; and 2) effectively disseminate these products through key stakeholders and throughout the Yakima Valley using a variety of methods. The long-term goal is to share this educational and informational strategy with other agricultural communities throughout Washington. This project comes with strong commitments from key leaders at the WA State Human Rights Commission, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Northwest Justice Project, WA Growers League, Equitable Food Initiative, Inc, and WA State Department of Agriculture, all of whom served as advisors as part of the SH Project Advisory Committee 2014-2015 (PAC) and most of whom are on the current SH Video Advisory Committee 2015-2017 (VAC).

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Victoria Adela Breckwich Vásquez, DrPH, MPH, MA

Assistant Professor, UW Bothell School of Nursing & Health Studies
Adjunct Assistant Professor, UW School of Public Health, Dept of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences

In the News | Selected Resources


Sexual Harassment in Agriculture: A Worksite Prevention Video

It is clear that there are few culturally-appropriate educational tools to train farmworkers and farm managers about sexual harassment at the agricultural worksite. The objective of this project is to develop a Spanish and English video that can be distributed to all farms for use in health and safety trainings.

Project Staff

Victoria Breckwich Vásquez, DrPH, MPH, MA (Principal Investigator/Executive Director)
Alexandra Lewis-Lorentz, PhD (Co-Investigator/Video Producer/Director)
Jody Early, PhD, MCHES (Co-Investigator/Evaluator)
Nicole Davis, BA, MPH(c) (Research Coordinator)
Elizabeth Torres, BS (Project Coordinator)
Maricela Martinez, BA (Research Assistant)
Isabel Reyes-Paz, BA (Research Assistant)

Video Advisory Committee 2015-2017 (VAC)

•    William Tamayo, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
•    Juanita Soto, Washington State Human Rights Commission
•    Deliana Garcia, Migrant Clinicians Network
•    Kevin Boyle, Equitable Food Initiative
•    Michael Gempler, WA Grower’s League
•    Paula Zambrano (Community Health Worker/Research Assistant)
•    Carmen Mireles (Community Health Worker/Research Assistant)
•    Phyllis Gutierrez-Kenney
•    Jeff Ostenson, North 40 Productions
•    Guadalupe Gamboa, WA State Human Rights Commission


This project is funded by Equitable Food Initiative, the UW Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center, WA State Human Rights Commission, Sea Mar Community Health Centers, and WAFLA. A special thanks to Laura Inouye and Guadalupe Gamboa at Oxfam America for finding seed money for this project that got us started. We continue to accept financial donations to complete this project by Fall 2017. Please contact Bev Kerlin ( at PNASH to find out more information about how to donate.

The Bandana Project

Our staff participates in the National Bandana Project, a public awareness-building movement and activity designed to focus attention on the issue of sexual harassment in agriculture. In 2014 Paula Zambrano, Carmen Mireles and other farmworker women in Yakima Valley designed the artwork of the bandanas alongside our project staff and students. In 2016, UW Bothell students designed bandanas in solidarity with farmworker women.

Credit for the National Bandana Project goes to attorney Monica Ramirez and Esperanza leaders, a concept developed years ago when Ms. Ramirez was at the Southern Poverty Law Center. For a description of the national effort, see the Bandana Project webpage.


Sexual Harassment Prevention Resource Wallet Cards

Although not originally part of the project plan, we were approached by both women farmworkers and Equal Employment Opportunity Committee (EEOC) lawyers in Seattle to work on the development of something that could be used during outreach and that would contain key resources for farmworkers regarding sexual harassment and their rights. Together with UW migrant students from the University of Washington CAMP Program, the women farmworkers and project team developed this wallet card. It is small enough to fit in someone’s wallet, purse or pocket, and the lamination protects it from damage. These were made in-house at PNASH and are welcome to be adapted to other areas (they contain Yakima-specific resources). 18,000 were distributed in the Yakima Valley region in Summer 2014, and a second printing of 25,000 continue to be distributed throughout the WA state and Northwest region.

Download here: Link to Wallet Card file (forthcoming)

Spanish-Language Radionovela on Sexual Harassment Prevention

NCEC/Radio KDNA created a Spanish-language Radionovela on women’s health and sexual harassment in agriculture based on key prevention messages. Radio KDNA has a pretesting and vetting process with all of its products. Actors were chosen from among those with a farmworker background to ensure cultural and industry relevance. In addition, the PAC reviewed the draft Radionovela script to make sure legal requirements (definition of sexual harassment, what behaviors constitute it, the importance of reporting, and referral sources) were met.

Transcript (English) pdf. (forthcoming)

The four-minute radionovela was aired on Radio KDNA throughout the summer of 2014 and we held 2 radio call-in shows to answer audience questions.

Play/Teatro El Moscas: Preventing Sexual Harassment in Agriculture

In collaboration with leaders in the Washington State Department of Agriculture, we adapted the characters/script of the pesticide education play, El Moscas. The theater production, “Preventing Sexual Harassment in Agriculture,” was designed to spread awareness and educate people about what to do if sexual harassment occurs in the orchard or warehouse where they work. Modeled on “theater of the oppressed” principles, this play seeks to empower workers to take action and unite to eliminate sexual harassment in agriculture. Performances were held in Summer 2014 and were open to farmworkers, supervisors, and families in rural Washington.

Sexual Harassment Training Video for Agricultural Workers

A training video (in English and Spanish) is being developed for farmworkers, growers, supervisors, and managers in the agricultural industry. It focuses on the importance of the problem of sexual harassment in the agricultural Industry, the legal definition of sexual harassment, and steps to identifying and preventing sexual harassment. The script is currently being finalized.

See the video’s promotional trailer that highlights the need for such a workplace training video in the agricultural industry. (forthcoming)

WA State Human Rights Commission

Discrimination in employment on the basis of a person's sex or pregnancy is a violation of RCW 49.60 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. More information about sexual harassment in the workplace.


Health & Safety of Agricultural Women Workers Study (2013-2014)

The main objective of this study was to understand the experiences and perceptions of health and sexual harassment by farmworker women at the agricultural workplace. Questions included how they or others they know have experienced sexual harassment, what they see as enabling or protective factors for sexual harassment, and potential prevention messages for sexual harassment communication. Four focus groups were recruited and facilitated by community health workers/advocates. We collected demographic information.  
All study procedures and materials described were approved by the University of Washington’s Institutional Review Board.
Initial focus group analysis resulted in the development of prevention messages for each of 3 key groups: women farmworkers, managers/supervisors, and growers/owners. Findings were incorporated into draft video script content. An expanded analysis of the focus groups resulted in a Master’s in Public Health Thesis by the project’s Research Analyst. Listed below is a publication based on these results.

Research-to-Action Staff

Victoria Breckwich Vásquez, DrPH, MPH, MA (Project Director)
Catherine Karr, PhD, MD (Principal Investigator)
Nicole Kim, MD, MPH (Research Analyst)
Elizabeth Torres, BS (Project Coordinator)
Paula Zambrano (Community Health Worker/Research Assistant)
Carmen Mireles (Community Health Worker/Research Assistant)
Maricela Martinez, BA (Research Assistant)
Ruben Reyes, BS (Research Assistant)
Isabel Reyes-Paz, BA (Research Assistant)

Project Advisory Committee 2013-2014 (PAC)

William Tamayo, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Juanita Soto, Washington State Human Rights Commission
Ofelio Borges, Washington State Department of Agriculture
Mike Gempler, WA Grower’s League
Graciela Navarro, Northwest Justice Project
Guadalupe Gamboa, Oxfam America
Lilia Gomez, Washington State Department of Labor & Industries


This project was funded by the Washington State Medical Aid & Accident Fund through the University of Washington's Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences.

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Breaking the Silence: Sexual Harassment of Mexican Women Farmworkers.” Journal of Agromedicine, April 2016.


Cultural and Communication Perspectives from the Agricultural Sector about Sexual Harassment Prevention and Training (2015-2017)

This study seeks to understand cultural factors and perspectives that are important in communications about preventing sexual harassment. We conducted 7 focus group interviews with participants from 3 key target groups (managers/supervisors, female farmworkers, and male farmworkers) and are in the process of analyzing the data we collected. This study will then translate the findings and integrate them into the sexual harassment prevention training video script content.
All study procedures and materials described were approved by the University of Washington’s Institutional Review Board.

Research Staff

Victoria Breckwich Vásquez, DrPH, MPH, MA (Principal Investigator)
Elizabeth Torres, BA (Research Coordinator)
Maricela Martinez, BA (Research Assistant, Fall 2015-Fall 2016)
Anais Muñoz, BA (Research Assistant, Spring-Fall 2016)
Isabel Reyes-Paz, VA (Research Assistant, Fall 2015-Fall 2016)
Brenda Solis, BA (Research Assistant, Spring 2016)
Guadalupe Gamboa, JD (Facilitator)
Francisco Rios (Facilitator)
Paula Zambrano (Community Health Worker/Facilitator)
Carmen Mireles (Community Health Worker/Facilitator)


Funding was made possible by the UW Bothell School of Nursing & Health Studies