The EEOC on Wednesday sued defense contractor DynCorp International in the Eastern District of Virginia for its employees’ alleged harassment after out-of-court settlement talks failed. The basis: male employees harassing a male coworker who didn’t fit the typical gender stereotype of a man. From the EEOC’s press release:
According to the EEOC’s complaint, from October 2006 through January 2007, James Friso, an aircraft sheet metal/structural mechanic working in Taji, Iraq, was subjected to harassment based on his sex by a male co-worker. The lawsuit alleges the harassment included daily derogatory sex-based comments, accusations that Friso is gay and engaged in homosexual acts, and descriptions of homosexual acts. Friso, who is heterosexual, is 5’4” and of small stature. He is married, and the co-worker knew that Friso is married and is not homosexual.
The lawsuit alleges that despite this knowledge, the harasser subjected Friso to the harassment because Friso did not match the gender stereotype for a man. Although Friso complained to DynCorp’s management and human resources representatives about the co-worker’s unwelcome and offensive conduct, the harassment continued until Frisco was transferred to another work site. The complaint alleges that Friso’s transfer was in retaliation for his complaints about the harassment.
With the ever-widening scope of claims, employers must take all harassment complaints seriously and take meaningful action to remedy it before it grows into a bigger–and more expensive–problem.
The EEOC press release is here.