Labor & Employment

EEOC settles case of ironworker who claimed bias for failing to conform to manly-man stereotype

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has settled two same-sex harassment cases, including the case of a heterosexual ironworker who claimed he was subjected to gay slurs and simulated sex because he failed to conform to his boss’s male stereotypes.

The ironworker’s suit against Boh Brothers Construction settled for $125,000, Legal Times (sub. req.) reports. The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, upheld a jury finding of liability in September, ruling that gender stereotyping could be the basis for a same-sex harassment claim.

According to the 5th Circuit opinion, the ironworker’s supervisor called the worker a princess and a faggot, simulated sex with the worker when he bent over, and exposed himself to the worker while urinating, sometimes waving and smiling. A lawyer for Boh Brothers told Legal Times the company agreed to settle so it could put the case behind it and move on.

The jury had awarded the worker $200,000 in compensatory damages and $250,000 in punitives, but the trial judge reduced compensatories to $50,000 because of a damages cap. The 5th Circuit vacated the punitive award and remanded for a new determination because the case law concerning same-sex stereotyping had not been directly addressed at the time.

In a second case, Roy Farms in Eastern Washington agreed to pay $85,000 to settle allegations of sexual harassment, Legal Times says. Roy Farms did not admit wrongdoing. The agency had originally alleged a supervisor there made inappropriate comments to male workers, touched them sexually, and forced them to watch him urinate.

Roy Farms said in a statement that the suit was resolved on terms “that acknowledge Roy Farms’ long-standing commitment to providing a safe and respectful work environment for its employees.” The statement says the payment is “modest by EEOC settlement standards and is less than 10 percent of what the EEOC demanded before filing suit in 2012.”

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