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New Bedford seafood company denies discriminating against worker who complained to state

A house on the rocky north end of East Beach in New Bedford overlooking Buzzards Bay. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A house on the rocky north end of East Beach in New Bedford overlooking Buzzards Bay. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A New Bedford seafood business said Thursday that it did not discriminate against an immigrant worker who complained to the state.

The worker, Paula Fortes, is a Black woman who immigrated to the U.S. from Cape Verde, an island nation off the west coast of Africa. She filed the complaint against Eastern Fisheries, a New Bedford seafood harvester and distributor, a year ago and amended it earlier this week.

She told the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination that the company subjected her to years of sexual harassment and racial discrimination on the job, according to the complaint.

Eastern Fisheries said in a Thursday statement that it “denies all allegations of discrimination or unlawful conduct.” The statement also said the company “has been cooperating fully” with the state commission since the charge first arrived a year ago.

A spokesperson for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination declined to comment on the case. The commission is tasked with investigating complaints of discrimination and enforcing anti-discrimination laws.

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