In California, abusive language can cost about $3195.17 per word. Hope v. California Youth Authority, 134 Cal. App. 4th 577 (2005)
The jury awarded Bruce Hope $917,104 in economic damages and $1 million in emotional damages after he was repeatedly called demeaning names and his employer did nothing to stop the abuse.
While Hope worked as a cook at a youth correctional facility, he was subjected to several derogatory remarks based on his sexual orientation. Many of these remarks were made by his immediate supervisor, Marcellino, and a security officer assigned to the kitchen named Ortiz. Hope estimated that Ortiz called him a “faggot ass mother f****r”around 150 times.
Ortiz disliked Hope, in part because Hope had once reported Ortiz for giving an unknown substance to one of Nelles’s youthful offenders, or wards. Hope believed that Ortiz’s “whole attitude” toward him changed after this incident.
Ortiz called Hope a “faggot ass mother f****r” in front of the wards while they were serving dinner. Thereafter, the wards began treating Hope differently, calling him a “faggot” and ignoring his instructions.
Hope claimed that Ortiz “would take trash and throw it all over my area.” Ortiz once threw a trash can in an area Hope had just cleaned. At other times, other individuals threw food or trash in a cleaned area. Each time, Hope had to clean the area without help.
Hope approached one of his supervisors, Hedgepath, who had witnessed the harassment against Hope. When his supervisor advised Ortiz to stop, Ortiz refused. Hedgepath, from then on, merely ignored Ortiz’s harassment. Although Hedgepath believed that Ortiz did not like Hope because of Hope’s sexual orientation, Hedgepath did not report any of this to his superiors and told Hope he could not control the perceptions of others.
When Hope complained to the food manager, Yamamoto, she informed Hope that she believed the harassment was due to his sexual orientation. When Hope’s supervisor Marcellino referred to Hope as a “faggot” in front of other employees, Yamamoto made no effort to correct his behavior. She would simply tell Marcellino to “calm down.”
Hope was promoted to a new position but then four days later, his promotion was revoked.
Hope complained to Yamamoto that “on many occasions” Ortiz had caused him problems, resulting in “an ongoing harassment problem.” The memo concluded, “I would like some kind of resolution to these matters. I have exhausted all of my efforts to resolve these matters myself with no success. I am requesting assistance from you. This ongoing harassment … by Mr. Ortiz needs to be addressed by higher authority.”
No action was taken against Ortiz.
Hope began missing work because of stress. Hope’s psychiatrist testified at trial that the stress on Hope caused him to lose vision in one eye. Hope complained again, and this time got warned for sleeping in the bathroom, which Hope claimed was due to HIV medication he was taking.
The harassment towards Hope never stopped. Hope was placed on a medical leave of absence, but never returned to work
The Court of Appeals concluded that Hope believed that the work environment was hostile and offensive, and there was substantial evidence that Hope was subjected to harassment that was sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a hostile work environment.
“If the pink slip doesn’t fit,