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9th Circuit tackles harassment, retaliation against gay workers

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Firing,HR Management,Human Resources

by Leah Lively, Esq.

A recent 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision highlights unexpected problems employers can face when gay employees are harassed because of their sexual orientation. The case—Dawson v. Entek International (No. 09-35844, 9th Cir., 2011)—illustrates what can go wrong when harassment occurs, HR is slow to respond and retaliation is alleged.

Although the case originated in Oregon, it’s important for California employers because the 9th Circuit has jurisdiction here.

Slurs from co-workers, boss

In 2007, Entek International hired Shane Dawson as a temporary worker on the production line at the company’s Lebanon, Ore., plant. Dawson worked with 24 other employees, all of whom were men. Two of them knew Dawson and knew he was gay.

Dawson’s trainer on the production line was Troy Guzon. Dawson considered Guzon not only his trainer but his boss, since Guzon was the only supervisor he dealt with every day.

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