AELE Law Library of Case Summaries:
Employment & Labor Law for Public Safety Agencies


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Employee Harassment Sexual Orientation

See also, Employee Harassment Nonsexual

     A male homosexual city emergency management employee claimed that co-workers "mocked" him. His alleged romantic relationship with a male co-worker ended when the co-worker started an involvement with a co-worker. He then told his supervisor that he wanted to not have to work together with his ex-boyfriend, and that he feared a possible physical attack. He was transferred to a "graveyard" shift, and later also transferred to administrative duties at a cemetery. He sued the city and its mayor, claiming that his transfers and the ridicule of his co-workers amounted to sex discrimination, a hostile work environment and unlawful retaliation in violation of his equal protection rights. He sought damages for violation of his federal civil rights. The supposed mocking was not shown to be significant enough or pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment, and the transfer, even if not what he desired, had no impact on his rank, duties, or pay. Ayala-Sepulveda v. Municipality of San German, #102123, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 947; 114 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 234 (1st Cir.).
     Federal appeals panel rejects a discrimination action brought by an Apostolic Christian who was fired for insulting a coworker's sexual orientation. The terminated employee allegedly screamed "that God does not accept gays, they should not be on earth, and they will go to hell because they are "not right in the head." Matthews v. Wal-Mart, #10-2242, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 6647 (Unpub. 7th Cir.).
     Arbitrator reduces a termination to a suspension, in the case of an employee who violated an anti-hate rule, which read, "Behavior that violates the company's work environment policy, even if intended as a joke, is absolutely prohibited and will be grounds for severe corrective action, up to and including termination of employment." Although the grievant referred to a coworker as a "faggot" on a electronic bulletin board, he was reacting to the coworker's political activities. Nevertheless, homophobic language is a serious offense and warrants a substantial suspension. American Airlines and Allied Pilots Assn., 125 LA (BNA) 1025 (Vernon, 2008).
     Federal court dismisses an action filed by a terminated African-American who alleged verbal abuse from coworkers regarding her sexual orientation, religion, and race. Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and she was legitimately terminated because of her physical assault of two coworkers. Ford v. New York City, #06-Civ-8254, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 33473 (S.D.N.Y.).
     Black Lesbian LAFD firefighter wins $6.2 million for harassment and retaliation, including $2.7 million for emotional distress. City had rejected a settlement offer of $4.5 million. Bressler (Lee) v. City of Los Angeles, #BC336783, (L.A. Co. Super. Ct. 2007); verdict summarized at 45 (2214) G.E.R.R. (BNA) 822.
     Sixth Circuit affirms dismissal of a same-sex harassment lawsuit brought by a hospital police officer against his employer. The coworker harassment was not because of his gender or for sexual purposes. Title VII does not protect sexual orientation or persons perceived to be gay. Vickers v. Fairfield Med. Ctr., #04-3776, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 18060, 98 FEP Cases (BNA) 673 (6th Cir 2006). {N/R}
     Federal appeals court upholds discrimination verdict given an officer who had a sex change. He failed his probation period as a new sergeant because of gender stereotyping by his superiors. Barnes v. City of Cincinnati, #03-4110, 401 F.3d 729, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 4607, 2005 FED App. 0142P (6th Cir. 2005). [2005 FP Aug]
     Los Angeles to settle two harassment lawsuits for approximately $450,000 and $200,000. Two gay male officers, ages 42 and 45, claimed discrimination by coworkers and superiors. Weiner v. Los Angeles and Duncan v. Los Angeles, L.A. Times, Dec.26, 2004. {N/R}
     Former sheriff's officer wins nearly $3 million for coworker harassment because of her sexual orientation. Caggiano v. County of Essex, #L-1608-00, 42 (2084) G.E.R.R. (BNA) 1106 (N.J. Super. verdict 11/15/04); prior appel. decis. #A-1001-00T3, 354 N.J. Super. 111, 804 A.2d 1193, 2002 N.J. Super. Lexis 367, 89 FEP Cases (BNA) 838 (2002).[2005 FP Jan]
     Third Circuit affirms a jury award of $1.2 million to an ex-lieutenant for retaliation and due process violations, after complaining of sexual orientation harassment. Bianchi v. City of Philadelphia, #02-2687, 2003 U.S. App. Lexis 22726 (3d Cir. unpub. 2003). [2004 FP Feb]
     Jury awards $1.9 million to gay cook in a state prison who claimed he was verbally harassed by coworkers because of his sexual orientation. Hope v. St. of Calif. Youth Auth., #BC258985, 41 (2021) G.E.R.R. (BNA) 826 (Los Ang. Co. Super. Ct. 2003). [2003 FP Nov]
     A male Title VII plaintiff could not demonstrate that he was discriminated against "because of" his gender by male coworkers, who allegedly did not think that he fit the male stereotype and might be gay. Hamm v. Weyauwega, #02-2529, 2003 U.S. App. Lexis 11701 (7th Cir. 2003). {N/R}
     Ninth Circuit allows a gay worker to sue his employer for a hostile work environment. Rene v. MGM Grand Hotel, #98-16924, 2002 U.S. App. Lexis 20098 (9th Cir. 2002). [2002 FP Dec]
    Federal court rejects a fire lieutenant's sexual harassment claim, but allows a retaliation claim. Used condoms and gay material were put in his desk; his gear was smeared with excrement. Management responded inadequately to his complaints and then refused to let him work for medical reasons. Jury awards him $1,237,500. Bianchi v. Philadelphia, #99-CV-2409 (E.D.Pa). [2002 FP May]
     Gay male police officer awarded $380,000 for enduring nine years of harassing conduct by his fellow officers. Public employees who are harassed because of their sexual orientation can sue under 42 U.S. Code Sec. 1983 for violation of their equal protection rights. Quinn v. Nassau Co. Police Dept., #97-CV-3310, 1999 U.S. Dist. Lexis 9902, 53 F.Supp.2d 347, 80 FEP Cases (BNA) 286 (E.D.N.Y.). Verdict reported at 37 (1820) G.E.R.R. (BNA) 851. [1999 FP 131]

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