Boh Bros. Construction Co. to Pay $125,000 for Same-Sex Harassment in EEOC Lawsuit

by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Contact

Consent Judgment Ending Case Follows En Banc Appeals Court Determination That  Actions in Question Were Sex Discrimination and Remand to Determine Damages; Significant Injunctive Relief Reinstated

NEW ORLEANS - Boh Bros. Construction Co. has agreed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to a consent judgment which requires the company to pay $125,000 in compensatory damages to a former employee in a sex discrimination/same sex harassment case.  The consent judgment cannot be appealed and effectively brings the litigation to a close.

The EEOC filed the suit against Boh Bros. (EEOC v. Boh Bros. Construction Co., Civil Action No. 09-6460) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, in 2009 charging that a superintendent, Chuck Wolfe, harassed Kerry Woods with verbal abuse, taunting gestures of a sexual nature, and by exposing himself.  The harassment took place on the I-10 Twin Span project over Lake Pontchartrain between Slidell and New Orleans, La.  Woods's supervisor admitted at the trial that he harassed Woods because he thought Woods was feminine and did not conform to the supervisor's gender stereotypes of "rough iron workers." 

Following a jury trial, Boh Bros was found to have permitted hostile work environment sexual harassment which is illegal sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The jury awarded Woods a total of $ $451,000 in back pay and compensatory and punitive damages, which the district court reduced to $301,000 because of statutory limits.  The district court entered injunctive relief to prevent future occurrences of discrimination. 

The injunction additionally required the chief executive officer of Boh Bros. to send a letter to all company employees "advising them of the verdict against Defendant in this case on the claim of sexual harassment, stating that Defendant will not tolerate sexual harassment or retaliation, and that Defendant will take appropriate disciplinary action against any manager, supervisor, or employee who engages in sexual harassment or retaliation."  The court further ordered that Boh Bros. may not re-hire the harassing official during the life of the injunction.

The district court also denied Boh Bros.' motions for judgment as a matter of law and for a new trial.  Boh Bros. subsequently appealed.

In April 2012, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (case number 11-30770) reversed the jury verdict, finding that the evidence did not establish that Boh Bros. had harassed Woods "because of sex." The EEOC asked all the judges of the Fifth Circuit to rehear the case en banc.  In September 2013, a 10-6 majority of the Court of Appeals found that the law and evidence supported the jury's finding that Boh Bros. had illegally harassed Woods because of sex, in violation of Title VII.

The en banc Fifth Circuit also rejected the company's appeal of the district court's entry of a judgment of injunctive relief:  "The injunction is reasonably tailored to address deficiencies in [the company's] sexual harassment policies, inform and train employees regarding the relevant law, and prevent similar conduct from recurring."  

Thus, the full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals restored a jury's finding from March 2011 that Boh Bros. illegally subjected Woods to severe or pervasive harassment based on gender stereotypes.  The Court of Appeals remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings, including setting the proper amount of emotional damages in light of the appellate decision.

"I am ecstatic that the full Court of Appeals ruled in our favor with this outcome," said Woods.  "It's been a roller coaster.  I'm grateful that the EEOC fought so hard for me over all these years.  It proves to me that the government is really there to help people."

EEOC General Counsel David Lopez said, "The EEOC's recent record in winning jury trials like this one is remarkable, and the full Fifth Circuit here reaffirmed the critical part juries play in deciding discrimination cases.  This resolution remains faithful to the jury's verdict by providing meaningful relief to Mr. Woods and helping to prevent Boh Bros. from discriminating again."

New Orleans-based Boh Bros. is a major construction contractor that operates in the New Orleans and Gulf South areas.   According to company information, Boh Bros. employs more than 1,300 people on projects in the transportation, municipal, industrial, manufacturing and energy sectors.

The EEOC was represented at the trial in New Orleans by attorneys Gregory T. Juge and Tanya L. Goldman.

The EEOC enforces federal law prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Contact
more
less

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.
Feedback? Tell us what you think of the new jdsupra.com!