Austin, TX (Law Wire News) March 26, 2014
James Gist was awarded more than a half million dollars from a Galveston County jury last week after enduring nearly six months of sexually suggestive statements and behavior from his female superior, Pam Matranga, in 2011, The Houston Chronicle (3/22/14) reported. While some wondered if the case would be dismissed or minimized due to the traditional notion that only men can be guilty of sexual harassment, a jury made it clear that both men and women in a position of power cannot put subordinates in a position of having to endure unwanted comments and personal sexual advances, according to Tony R. Bertolino, managing attorney with Bertolino LLP. When the decision was shared with the parties in the room, Gist received $200,000.00 more than he had requested when he filed the suit, the Chronicle reported.
Gist claims that Matranga asked him to come to a strip club where she would be performing, pressed his face into her body on multiple occasions and initiated various other inappropriate gestures that were detailed before the jury charged with determining this verdict, the Chronicle reported. For her part, Matranga admits to some of the conversations but insists they were intended to be taken with good humor. Matranga also asserted that Gist was a willing participant in the banter and only got upset after being passed over for a job promotion.
It is true that an overwhelming percentage of sexual harassment claims are made by women. In 2011, men constituted only sixteen percent of the claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ("Know Your Rights: Workplace Sexual Harassment, American Association of University Women). But Attorney Bertolino points out that men need to be confident that their rights in the workplace are protected and taken seriously.