Straight Sanitation Worker Wins Lawsuit After Being Harassed For Perceived Homosexuality
A former Los Angeles city sanitation worker has won a multimillion dollar lawsuit against the city. The worker, James Pearl, is married to a woman, but claimed he faced frequent harassment from supervisors who believed he was gay.
A Los Angeles jury has awarded a former city sanitation worker $17.4 million after finding that he endured repeated harassment by his supervisors, who falsely perceived that he was gay.
Jurors deliberated for about two hours Wednesday before unanimously deciding that James Pearl of L.A. was subjected to verbal abuse, hazing and a bullying campaign in which his portrait was photoshopped to show him in a same-sex relationship with a subordinate. The images were then circulated among city employees, Pearl’s attorney said.
When a colleague alerted a manager in the highest ranks of the Bureau of Sanitation about the mistreatment, the supervisor failed to take action, according to court papers.
Now 55, Pearl has been on permanent disability and suffers from physical and psychological damage, his attorney said.
Regarding the alleged harassment:
Managers and supervisors referred to Pearl by derogatory terms, according to court papers, and circulated offensive messages about him.
Pearl contended he found objects at his desk suggestive of or related to homosexual sex, his lawyer said.
But in court papers, the city contended that Pearl did not complain internally about the alleged mistreatment, and said his assignments were dictated by work orders that accrued amid budget cuts and a lack of staff.
City lawyers also argued that Pearl did not know about the photoshopped images until after his termination, when others told him. The attorneys referred to Pearl’s deposition, when he said he heard gay slurs in the workplace but did not know if they were directed at him.
“The image and comments were trivial and isolated, at best,” city lawyers argued in court papers. “Based on whatever comments he claims he heard and knowledge he gained about a purported image, none of these rise to the level of severe and pervasive.”
The sanitation bureau did not respond to a request for comment.
For his part, Pearl is pleased with the jury's finding and the monetary award. His lawyer states:
“He’s obviously vindicated,” Nevell said. “He’s just been stepped on, and to have the jury vindicate him, he was in tears. For the first time in a long time, he’s hopeful.”
Thoughts on his award in the lawsuit??
(H/T: The Gaily Grind)