A Los Angeles jury has awarded a former city sanitation worker $17.4 million after finding that he endured repeated harassment by his supervisors, who falsely perceived that he was gay.
Jurors deliberated for about two hours Wednesday before unanimously deciding that James Pearl of L.A. was subjected to verbal abuse, hazing and a bullying campaign in which his portrait was photoshopped to show him in a same-sex relationship with a subordinate. The images were then circulated among city employees, Pearl’s attorney said.
When a colleague alerted a manager in the highest ranks of the Bureau of Sanitation about the mistreatment, the supervisor failed to take action, according to court papers.
“The most outrageous part is the city had the information and sat on it,” said Todd Nevell, whose Pasadena firm represented Pearl.
“As a result, it exposed the city to all of this further harm and damage.… It was not the rank and file engaged in this misconduct; it was the leaders of the department.”