February 27, 2007

EEOC OBTAINS JURY VERDICT FOR SAME-SEX HARASSMENT AGAINST MEN

The EEOC has announced a federal jury verdict against Hill Brothers Construction Company and Engineering Company, Inc. in a rare same-sex harassment lawsuit brought by the agency on behalf of male employees who were sexually harassed by other men. The verdict in the amount of $225,000 in punitive damages was rendered by a federal jury in Oxford, Mississippi. The jury did not award any back pay or compensatory damages.

The EEOC had charged that the company discriminated against three male employees by subjecting them to a sexually hostile work environment. They had been hired by the company as truck drivers, and all three complained of harassment from another male employee that was allegedly severe, pervasive, and included sexually offensive comments and unwanted physical contact.

EEOC Birmingham District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas said, “Employers need to heighten their awareness of discrimination and take the appropriate action to address and correct it. There is simply no excuse for an employer’s failure to remedy pervasive sexual harassment and physical assault of employees who have complained repeatedly to management. We strongly encourage Mississippi employers to take notice that discrimination is a costly practice and early prevention makes it a better, more productive workplace.”

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