Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Gay Massachusetts Jailer Awarded $623,600 For Hostile Work Environment

On June 30, 2003, a jury in an unknown Massachusetts court awarded $623,600
to a jailer at the Suffolk County House of Corrections who claimed he
suffered harassment due to his sexual orientation.

The male plaintiff claimed that in late 1997 or early 1998 he became aware
of rumors circulating at the jail about his sexual orientation. He had
worked at the jail for four years prior to this without incident. Once the
rumors started, however, the plaintiff claimed be was harassed for nearly
two years and eventually forced to quit his job. The harassment included
intimidating phone calls, vandalism of his car while it was parked near the
jail, and the receipt of an anonymous package with the word fag on it.
The plaintiff reported the harassment to his superiors but claimed that
after an initial investigation they took no further action. What's more, he
claimed, they began to retaliate against him by assigning him to less
desirable positions within the jail. The situation caused him so much
stress, the plaintiff claimed, that he was forced to see a psychologist and
ultimately attempted suicide.

The plaintiff sued claiming hostile work environment, constructive
discharge, and retaliation. The defendant county contended the plaintiff
provided no evidence to substantiate any of his claims and that his
emotional problems were due to factors in his personal life, including
problems with his partner, his family, and alcohol. The plaintiffs
psychologist, Dr. Robert Wagner of Boston, testified that his client
suffered from stress, anxiety, and depression that were directly linked to
the harassment he experienced on the job. The jury found for the plaintiff
and awarded him $623,600, which included $100,000 in punitive damages.
Attorneys Robert P. Rerluti and Shahan J. Kapitanyan of the Boston firm
Berluti & McLaughlin represented the plaintiff. See: Salvi v. Suffolk
County Sheriffs Department, Court unknown, Case No. 2000-337A.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Salvi v. Suffolk County Sheriffs Department