Produce Giant Settles Suit Against Ex-Employee Six Years Later
A management division of the produce giant Stemilt Growers is settling a lawsuit against an ex-employee it accused of wrongdoing almost six years ago.
Stemilt Ag Services claimed former employee relations manager Elizabeth Hernandez Ascencio devised a scheme to double bill the company for her work recruiting H-2A guest workers.
The lawsuit claims the company was swindled out of $1.1 million after Hernandez formed an outside group to bill for duplicate services through a third party.
The settlement signed last Thursday by a Chelan County Superior Court judge calls for her to pay Stemilt Ag Services $37,500.
Stemilt claims Hernandez used her company, H2Global to work on the scheme with Kennewick based Evergreen Agricultural Services, another defendant in the original lawsuit.
The suit says H2Global billed Evergreen for services, and then Evergreen billed Stemilt Ag Services with new invoices.
It claims Hernandez essentially billed Stemilt Ag a second time for guest worker recruitment she'd already performed as an employee of the company.
Hernandez started working for Stemilt Ag on 2009 and incorporated H2Global in 2016.
Stemilt Ag filed its lawsuit shortly after firing Hernandez in October of 2017.
After her firing, the suit claims Hernandez tried to recruit dozens of Stemilt H-2A guest workers for jobs with others employers.
The H-2A program allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs.
Stemilt employs more than 1,000 such workers every year.