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Employer liable for discrimination against gay employee who is target of slurs, shunning, and hostile work environment

Employers are liable if they knew or should have known of harassment of gay employees.  The law doesn’t tolerate willful ignorance or deliberate indifference.  Here is a real life example:  Employee is homosexual male. He does not tell his coworkers of his sexual orientation because he considers it a private matter. The employee learns that a co-worker is spreading rumors about his sexual orientation.  The employee then endures an ugly sequence of persistent rumors, slurs, shunning, and undesirable work assignments.  The employee gets no relief by raising internal complaints.  Eventually, the harassment becomes so bad and unsafe that the employee cannot return to work.  He suffers serious depression due to the hostile work environment.

At trial, the employer argued that the disputed incidents were isolated and exaggerated.  The jury did not agree, and found that the employer knew or should have known about the harassment and failed to take proper corrective action.  The jury returned a substantial verdict for the employee on his claims for discrimination and constructive discharge.

Pamela A. Smith
Law Office of Pamela A. Smith
233 Needham Street, Suite 540
Newton, MA 02464


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