Employers Now On The Hook For Workers' Gay Slurs In Landmark Case

For decades, Luis Patino worked for Birken Manufacturing Co. in Connecticut, building aircraft components. Starting in 1991, the taunts became relentless: "faggot," "homo," "faggot go home." They harassed him in Italian and Spanish, too: "pato," "maricon," "pira." His body shook with humiliation, his work suffered, and he struggled to get to sleep at night. Patino complained to management many times over many years, but the insults never stopped.

It wasn't clear, however, that Patino's employer had done anything illegal. No court in the country has ever held a company responsible for the gay harassment suffered by an employee. But this past Friday, the Connecticut Supreme Court did. Patino, who will be 73 next week, was awarded $94,500, reports the Hartford Courant.