New Orleans, LA- A federal court judge has overturned a $300K settlement awarded to an iron-worker who filed a suit against his former employer Boh Bros. Construction.
The initial suit was filed by Kerry S. Woods a make iron worker who filed a claim against his supervisor Charles Wolfe. Woods alleges that Wolfe subjected him to same-sex discrimination. While on the job, Wolfe made repeatedly said Woods seemed feminine. When Woods bent over at work, Wolfe would come behind his and simulate a sex act. Woods was constantly tormented with homosexual references with Wolfe frequently calling him “faggot” and “princess.”
Woods told his supervisors of the derogatory language and he was transferred to a different crew, but was laid-off later because of lack of business. Woods then contacted the EEOC to file a formal sexual harassment and discrimination complaint, on the basis of same-sex discrimination.
A state court awarded Woods a $350 settlement which was later reduced by $50K. Boh Bros. appealed the claim and a federal court overturned the initial judgment.
In an opinion, federal Judge Grady Jolly stated there was no doubt Woods was the target of his supervisors vulgar language, but it wasn’t the job of the court “to clean up the language and conduct on construction sites.”
Boh Bros. stated they have appropriately disciplined Wolfe for his behavior.
Employers are responsible for making certain their employees don’t create a hostile work environment by providing sexual harassment and discrimination training and by addressing allegations when they arise. But often these types of complaints are not taken seriously; forcing the abused employee to retain a sexual harassment attorney to recover any damages associated with emotional distress and lost wages.