Coworker sexually harasses truck driver. $2.6M. Santa Cruz County.

Summary

Heterosexual male harassed with homosexual slurs.

The Case

  • Case Name: Hudson v. Beverly Fabrics, Inc.
  • Court and Case Number: Santa Cruz Superior Court / CV182035
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, March 07, 2018
  • Date Action was Filed: Thursday, July 09, 2015
  • Type of Action: Discrimination, Sexual, Employment, Sexual Harassment, Wrongful Termination
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. John M. Gallagher
  • Plaintiffs:
    Mr. Hudson, truck driver.
  • Defendants:
    Beverly Fabrics, Inc.
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $2,600,000
  • Economic Damages:

    $441,944

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    $1,058,056

  • Punitive Damages:

    $1,100,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 15 trial days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 2 days.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Peck-Law by Elizabeth ("Lisa") M. Peck, Santa Cruz.

    SchwinLaw, P.C. by Kevin Schwin, Fresno.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Littler Mendelson, PC by Robert Wilger and Justin Brown, San Jose.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Anthony Reading, Ph.D., psychology, Beverly Hills.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Mark Patterson, Ph.D., psychology.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff was an eight-year employee of Beverly Fabrics, Inc., working as a Class A truck driver. Although a heterosexual male, plaintiff was subjected to several years of sexual harassment by a male coworker, another truck driver, who tormented plaintiff with homosexual slurs, spreading false rumors about plaintiff, making highly inappropriate physical contact and gestures towards plaintiff, and targeting plaintiff's heterosexual identity by using "sex" as a tool of harassment against plaintiff.

    Plaintiff reported the coworker's actions to his supervisors, whom plaintiff believed already knew of the conduct, ignored it, and allowed it to continue. When the harassment escalated, and involved physical contact, plaintiff reported the coworker and other work conditions he suffered to corporate officers. The coworker was laid off and not terminated for cause or informed of plaintiff's reports.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That defendant employer allowed the sexual harassment to occur and continue, failed to properly investigate plaintiff's report, failed to investigate the report, failed to investigate and curtail how widespread the conduct had become, or how it had influenced plaintiff's workplace. After plaintiff reported the harassment and conduct to corporate officers, and defendant laid off the harasser, defendant's supervisors retaliated against plaintiff by assigning him the harasser's truck and additional overnight routes, among other retaliatory acts. Plaintiff ultimately resigned.

    Plaintiff claimed sexual harassment (same-sex) and hostile work environment, in violation of FEHA; gender discrimination (disparate treatment of plaintiff as compared to female employees, because of his report of harassment based on male-male conduct), in violation of FEHA; retaliation for engaging in protected activities, in violation of FEHA; failure to prevent harassment, discrimination and retaliation in violation of FEHA; constructive termination/wrongful termination in violation of public policy.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant employer contended that plaintiff did not report the conduct for several years, and that once defendant was made aware of the conduct, it promptly terminated the harassing coworker. Defendant asserted that it phrased the termination as a “layoff” at plaintiff’s request, and to protect him.

    Beverly Fabrics also contended that its assignment of an additional overnight trucking route to plaintiff, and its assignment of coworker’s truck to plaintiff when the coworker was laid off, were done for legitimate business reasons.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Emotional distress and related harm, lost earnings and earning capacity.

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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