Fifth Circuit Finds EEOC Evidenced Unlawful Harassment Based on Gender Stereotypes
Woods, an ironworker on an all-male bridge-maintenance crew, was a specific and frequent target of verbal and physical harassment because he did not conform to the crew’s superintendent’s view of how a man should act. Both Woods and his supervisor are heterosexual. After Woods complained to his foreman, he was removed from the maintenance crew and eventually fired. Woods filed an EEOC charge of discrimination alleging sexual harassment and retaliation. At trial, the EEOC presented evidence that Woods’ supervisor harassed him because he thought Woods did not conform to the supervisor’s gender stereotypes of a typical “rough ironworker”. A jury found that the harassment violated Title VII and awarded compensatory and punitive damages. The district court denied motions for judgment as a matter of law and for a new trial. The Fifth Circuit rejected the employer’s claim that a Title VII same-sex discrimination case cannot rely on gender-stereotyping evidence, holding that harassment is “because of sex” if it is based on lack of conformity with gender stereotypes.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Boh Brothers Construction Company, L.L.C., No. 11-30770 (5th Cir. Sept. 27, 2013).comments powered by Disqus