The city is considering Thursday whether to appeal a $17.3 million jury award to a Sanitation Bureau worker who alleged he endured harassment from supervisors who falsely perceived him to be homosexual.
A Los Angeles Superior Court panel deliberated for a few hours before finding in favor of James Pearl on Wednesday.
Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, said the city is weighing its options, including an appeal.
Lawyers for Pearl could not be immediately reached.
Pearl was hired in 2002 and was promoted to a supervisor four years later. But because his bosses believed he was gay, Pearl “endured various insults, criticisms, demeaning comments, suggestive remarks, offensive posters, cartoons … concerning his alleged sexual orientation,” according to court papers filed by his lawyers.
“Plaintiff is heterosexual, however he was harassed and discriminated against because supervisors and managers in the department perceived him as being homosexual and these same supervisors and managers have a long history of discriminating and harassing homosexual employees,” according to Pearl’s attorneys.
A photoshopped image depicted Pearl and another employee as homosexual lovers and included images of city vehicles in the background, according to Pearl’s court papers.
Pearl was fired in August 2011 on various allegations, including falsification of documents regarding work shifts of employees under his supervision, according to the city’s court papers. He appealed and was reinstated a year later, then went on medical leave in December 2013.
While he was off work, Pearl lost a commercial property he owned through foreclosure, was forced to apply for public assistance, including food stamps, and was forced to rely on church food programs to feed himself and his family, according to his attorneys’ court papers.
–City News Service