A heterosexual man has been awarded $17.4 million in a homophobic discrimination lawsuit.
Last week, the city of Los Angeles was ordered to pay the impressive figure to former city sanitation worker James Pearl, who says he was subjected to homophobic abuse.
Pearl, 55, identifies as straight and is married to a woman, but says he suffered workplace bullying that was homophobic in nature and his employers failed to stop the abuse.
Stated a court filing:
Pearl’s lawyers alleged he had endured “insults, criticisms, demeaning comments, suggestive remarks, offensive posters, cartoons… concerning his alleged sexual orientation”.
The bullying allegedly escalated when a photoshopped image of Pearl seemingly in a relationship with a male co-worker was circulated among city employees.
The lawsuit alleged that the abuse caused Pearl to suffer “physical and psychological damage”, which left him on disability.
Last week, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury found in favor of Pearl and ordered the city to pay $17.4 million in damages and compensation.
“He’s obviously vindicated,” said Todd Nevell, Pearl’s lawyer.. “He’s just been stepped on, and to have the jury vindicate him, he was in tears. For the first time in a long time, he’s hopeful.”
The LA city attorney’s office is now “reviewing [their] options” about a potential appeal, this according to the LA Times.
Pearl had previously been employed at the department from 2002 until 2011. He was fired for falsifying documents. Around that time, Pearl filed a discrimination complaint against his employers where he accused them of discriminating against him because of his race. He ultimately appealed his termination and was employed again in 2013.