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Lesbian wins sexual harassment/gender presentation suit against UPS

Riki Wilchins, executive director of GenderPAC, says Kathy Hoskins’ victory “is a huge step forward for women everywhere who want to be judged for the quality of their work, not how they express their gender.”

The knuckle-dragging UPS supervisor in this case got his company in big trouble. Tell me how does the way a UPS delivery person looks affects their ability to get a package from point A to point B? The plaintiff had to fight this on sexual harassment, abusive work environment and the history of lack of advancement and hiring of women generally by the supervisor.

The company does not have a “gender identity and expression” in its Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) polices, so on its face, that kind of discrimination would have been considered A-OK. (Gay Wired):

An openly lesbian former United Parcel Service (UPS) worker was awarded $63,000 this week in her hostile work environment sexual harassment suit against the world’s largest package delivery company. The jury concluded that the 14-year UPS veteran experienced severe, widespread and persistent harassment that created a hostile and abusive work environment, which ultimately led to her wrongful termination.

The outcome of this case sends a clear message to UPS and the rest of corporate America that harassment based on gender stereotypes will not be tolerated,” said attorney Waukeen Q. McCoy of the Law Offices of Waukeen Q. McCoy, who represents the plaintiff in this case. “Discrimination in the workplace must stop, and stop now. We will continue to fight this case against UPS at the appellate level.”

The case, which was argued in San Francisco Superior Court, focused on Kathy Hoskins’ complaint of persistent harassment by coworkers and supervisors about her appearance. She also was denied new work equipment and other uniform and safety equipment that was readily available to male employees. Hoskins is an African-American woman whose gender presentation does not fit the stereotypical feminine model.

According to my former supervisor, I wasn’t ‘feminine’ enough,” said Hoskins, who worked at a UPS facility in San Bruno from September 1988 to February 2003 as a package car driver.

Ms. Hoskins was one of only four women out of a total of 56 employeesthat worked at the San Bruno facility. The supervisor who was the primary source of the disparaging comments and actions did not hire a woman during his five-year tenure at that facility and promoted only one in his entire 22-year management career . “UPS should take the court’s judgment seriously and enforce policies that provide a safe and equitable work environment where every employee can perform their job free from discrimination and harassment,” said McCoy.

“This judgment is a huge step forward for women everywhere who want to be judged for the quality of their work, not how they express their gender or how feminine they can appear,” said Riki Wilchins, executive director of the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (GenderPAC), a nonprofit group in Washington, DC that fights discrimination and violence caused by gender stereotypes. “Kathy Hoskins’ case is emblematic of a wider trend toward zero tolerance of gender harassment in the workplace that’s not only taking place in the courts, but in state and local legislatures and corporate America as well.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding