On March 8, 2018 a jury in Santa Cruz county entered a verdict in favor of Cole Hudson for $2.6 million. Mr. Hudson worked for 8 years as a truck driver for Beverly Fabrics, Inc., a retailer of fabrics, arts & crafts. Mr. Hudson was an exemplary employee by all accounts. He had consistently good evaluations and received regular pay raises.
In 2008 a co-worker by the name of Dan Rangle began harassing Mr. Hudson. The harassment included showing Mr. Hudson pornographic images on his phone, spreading false rumors that Mr. Hudson was gay and that he frequented male prostitutes at truck stops, pinching Mr. Hudson's nipples, brushing his hand against Mr. Hudson's butt, and many other instances of inappropriate conduct. The harassment went on for years. Supervisors knew of the harassment and responded by telling Mr. Hudson to suck it up and deal with it.
On July 10, 2013, Mr. Rangle's harassment escalated when he twice rubbed his genitals - through his pants - on Mr. Hudson's arm. Mr. Hudson decided to report this incident to upper management. Upper management then made a business decision to lay off Dan Rangle, thereby avoiding the need to conduct a full, fair and thorough investigation into the incident.
A week later, the company laid off Dan Rangle. Immediately thereafter, Mr. Hudson was re-assigned to use Mr. Rangle's former truck, which had a sleeper cab with a mattress that still smelled of Mr. Rangle's body odor. Mr. Hudson was also told that because of Mr. Rangle's layoff, he would have to make up the difference by spending 2 nights a week on the road instead of just one night per week. This caused significant strain on Mr. Hudson and his family.
Two months after Mr. Rangle's layoff, somebody from upper management came to Mr. Hudson and told him they were glad this didn't happen to a woman. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Hudson resigned as a result of the ongoing harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. After his resignation, Mr. Hudson was diagnosed with PTSD, Major Depression and an Adjustment Disorder. His psychiatrist has determined he is unable to work.
At trial, we proved that the harassment did, in fact, occur as described by Mr. Hudson, and that the company failed to investigate or take appropriate action according to its policies. We also proved that, in every other instance involving male-female or female-male sexual harassment, the company investigated and acted pursuant to its policies, but in this case of male-male sexual harassment, it did not.
Mr. Hudson was represented by Lisa Peck of Peck-Law and Kevin Schwin, of counsel to Peck-Law.
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