These male managers said they were just teasing their male subordinates. But now their companies are paying tens of thousands of dollars to settle same-sex harassment lawsuits.
He caressed their faces and buttocks
In the first case, one of the largest hop producers in the world has agreed to pay $85,000 to settle a recent same-sex harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of four employees.
According to the EEOC, male workers at eastern Washington grower Roy Farms were subjected to sexual and threatening comments and physical contact from their supervisor for two years.
Was it subtle? Nope: The manager allegedly told the workers in vulgar terms that he wanted to have sex with them, and would caress their faces, backs and buttocks.
The EEOC said a farm worker objected to the supervisor, then complained to a separate manager. When nothing was done, he quit.
The farm worker then went to the EEOC, which sued on his and three other workers’ behalf. Roy Farms opted to settle.
In addition to the monetary settlement, Roy Farms:
- will issue equal employment opportunity policies in English and Spanish to all of its staffers in eastern Washington
- make changes to complaint procedures so employees can easier file complaints
- train managers on anti-harassment and hold them accountable for any harassment that occurs on their watch, and
- report harassment complaints to the EEOC for three years.
He exposed himself to the other worker
In the second case, a construction company has settled a similar same-sex harassment case — this one for $125,000.
Kerry Woods worked as a construction worker for Boh Brothers. Shortly after he began, his superintendent:
- began referring to Woods as “princess” and “f—-t”
- exposed himself to Woods on a number of occasions, and
- simulated sexual acts by walking up behind him and miming rude actions.
Woods complained, and his co-workers agreed that though Woods wasn’t homosexual or attracted to men, he was the primary victim of his superintendent’s harassment. No action was taken to curb the superintendent’s actions.
After committing a fireable offense, the superintendent told his own boss that he didn’t like Woods and that Woods didn’t fit in.
Woods was suspended for three days without pay and then moved to another crew, though he was eventually laid off for lack of work.
Woods sued for harassment, and the case wound its way through district and appeals courts before being settled.
In addition to the monetary settlement, Boh Bros. will send a letter to all employees about the outcome of the lawsuit, saying that it will not tolerate sexual harassment or retaliation and that the company will act on any complaints of harassment or retaliation.
Hat tip to Debra Cassens Weiss with ABA Journal.