Tag Archives: sexual harassment

Discrimination for being “unmanly”

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (en banc) ruled that an iron worker who was subjected to gay slurs and simulated sex because he failed to conform to the employer’s male stereotypes was discriminated against under Title VII.

In EEOC v. Boh Bros. Constr. Co., No. 11-30770 (5th Cir. Sept. 27, 2013), the  court reviewed the jury’s findings and awarded damages.  The Fifth Circuit found that taking the case as a whole, a jury could have found that the employee was harassed because he did not fall under the “manly-man stereotype.”

This case arose when a worker, Kerry Woods, was subjected to sex harassment.  Woods was often sexual derogatory terms regarding Woods’ sexuality.  In addition, the superintendent also exposed himself when Woods was going to the bathroom, and made sexual innuendo comments to Woods.  When these actions were brought to the employer, the superintendent told the general superintendent that he didn’t care for Woods because he was “different” and “didn’t fit in.”

After trial the jury found that this verbal and physical harassment occurred daily.  The jury awarded Woods $200,000 in compensatory damages and $250,000 in punitive damages.

via Harassed for being unmanly? En banc court sees Title VII violation; dissent sees clean-talk enforcer.

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EEOC wins over $1.5 million in sexual harassment case

The EEOC has issued a press release announcing a big victory for sexual harassment cases.  These cases are often dismissed.  For instance, according to EEOC 2011 statistics, the EEOC received 11,364 sexual harassment complaints.  Of these, 53% were found to have no reasonable cause.  This is an increase from 2010, where the percentage was of 50.1%.  Since 1997, the percentage of cases dismissed has been in an upwards trend.

In the EEOC case against New Breed Logistics (Civil Action No. 2:10-cv-02696-STA-tmp), the jury awarded $177,094 in back pay, $486,000 in compensatory damages, and $850,000 in punitive damages.

Following the 7-day trial, the jury found that the warehouse supervisor subjected 3 temporary workers to unwelcome sexual touching and lewd, obscene and vulgar  sexual remarks at the company’s Avaya Memphis area warehouse facility.  Further, the jury found that a supervisor fired the three temp workers because they complained about the harassment.

 

via Jury Awards More Than $1.5 Million in EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Suit against New Breed Logistics | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – JDSupra.

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Case to watch re: supervisor liability

Ball v. Vance is the name of the case.

Issue: Whether the “supervisor” liability rule established by Faragher v. City of Boca Raton and Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth (i) applies to harassment by those whom the employer vests with authority to direct and oversee their victim’s daily work, or (ii) is limited to those harassers who have the power to “hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer, or discipline” their victim.

via Adjunct Law Prof Blog: Supremes Grant Cert In Case Involving Faragher Affirmative Defense.

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EEOC Class Action Backfires; 8th Circuit Sides with Defendant Facing ‘Moving Target’ of Discovery

A federal appeals court ruling has made it more difficult for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to pursue large discrimination cases in the Midwest.

The ruling by the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals criticized the agency for waiting until discovery to investigate sexual harassment claims on behalf of 67 women in its class action against a trucking company. According to the Associated Press, the EEOC suit “has backfired and put the agency on trial.”

The story quotes management side lawyer Gerald Maatman Jr. The opinion is “incredibly significant,” he said. “It is a signal by the federal courts that the tactics the EEOC has been using over the last several years may be improper.”

The EEOC filed the suit against interstate trucking company CRST Van Expedited Inc. after receiving a complaint from Monika Starke of Azle, Texas, who claimed one of her trainers made inappropriate comments and another forced her to have sex to get a passing grade.

The EEOC first sued on behalf of 270 women, but U.S. District Judge Linda Reade of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said the agency used “a ‘sue first, ask questions later’ litigation strategy” and barred many of the claims. The EEOC appealed the dismissal of claims on behalf of 107 women, including 67 claims dismissed for failure to investigate and conciliate.

The appeals court opinion upheld most of Reade’s decision, but reinstated claims by Starke and and one other woman who said her trainer entered the cab wearing only his underwear, according to the AP account.

“There was a clear and present danger that this case would drag on for years as the EEOC conducted wide-ranging discovery and continued to identify allegedly aggrieved persons,” the appeals court said, quoting from Reade’s opinion. “The EEOC’s litigation strategy was untenable: CRST faced a continuously moving target of allegedly aggrieved persons, the risk of never-ending discovery and indefinite continuance of trial.”

via EEOC Class Action Backfires; 8th Circuit Sides with Defendant Facing ‘Moving Target’ of Discovery – News – ABA Journal.

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