EEOC Awards $149,459 to Federal Employee in Sex Harassment Case

A finding of sexual harassment against an employee of the Department of Interior results in an award of $149,459.75 to the employee–even though she did not claim any lost pay.

In a sexual harassment case, the EEOC Office of Federal Operations awarded a Federal employee $149,459.75 Ms. Gray received $100,000 emotional distress, $43,359.75 for past & future medical expenses and a $6,100 tax enhancement. Celeste Gray v. Dept. of Interior, Appeal No. 0120072136 (July 24, 2009)

For over two years, Gray’s supervisor: “rubbed her shoulders, called her into his office to pick up trash off the floor in front of his desk, put a bottle of oil on her desk for her hair; told her that there was ‘nothing he did not know about a woman’s body.'”

When Gray was going out of town, her supervisor said, “I hope you don’t give up nothing,” and told her that her outfit was “risqué.” The supervisor asked another employee what kind of bra she had on. The supervisor looked at a co-worker’s breasts and said, “Oh, I see the girls this morning” on more than one occasion.

The Commission determined Gray suffered severe emotional distress for three years, and rejected as inadequate an Agency Final Agency Decision (FAD) awarding $19,843.03 ($10,000 emotional distress/$9,843.03 pecuniary).

Gray was represented by Attorneys Josh Bowers and Gary Gilbert. Gray was evaluated by a forensic psychiatrist and treated by a psychologist for three years as a result of the sexual harassment. She had a massive weight gain to make herself less attractive to the sexual harasser. Gray also suffered hypertension, headaches, sleep disorder, depression, anxiety, nightmares, low self-esteem, increased alcohol usages and withdrew from relationships with her daughter, grandchildren and friends.

The EEOC’s award included a tax enhancement of $6,100 to compensate Ms. Gray for taxes to be incurred for the award of future medical expenses. The EEOC did not address her request for a tax enhancement based on her emotional distress damages which may result in Gray paying as much as $28,000 in taxes on her emotional distress compensation.

Gray made no claim for lost time from work, and all monetary damages were for past or future medical or psychological expenses.  The Commission only awarded a tax enhancement based on the award of future medical expenses.  The Commission did not address our client’s request for a tax enhancement on the much larger award of $100,000 for emotional distress.

Gray v. Interior (July 24, …