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Virginia-based DynCorp International which describe themselves as "a global government services provider in support of U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives" has settled with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission for $155,000 with an employee that complained of homophobic harassment.

From James Friso's complaint (pdf), a straight aircraft sheet metal/structural mechanic working in Taji, Iraq.

Around November 2006, one of Friso's male co-workers (the "Co-worker") began making derogatory sex-based comments to Friso on a daily basis. The conduct continued until January 2007, when Defendant transferred Friso to Mannheim, Germany.

Specifically, the Co-worker called Friso "faggot," "dick-sucker" and/or "queer" on a daily basis. The Co-worker frequently referenced Friso's size in his insults, for example using terms such as "whiney little bitch," "short little mother fucker" and "short little bitch."

In addition to foregoing conduct, the Co-worker accused Friso of engaging in homosexual acts, and described such acts to Friso. For example, on one occasion, the Co-worker told Friso to "go back to Mannheim and suck [Friso's former supervisor's] dick." The Co-worker made this comment in the presence of Defendant's management, but management took no action in response.

Repeated complaints to management went unaddressed, until Friso alleges he was told by managers they “would get rid of him.” Washington Blade reports eventually Friso was transferred to Mannheim, Germany to a post with lower pay. The co-worker who allegedly harassed Friso continued to work at Taji.

In addition to agreeing to pay $155,000 in relief to Friso, DynCorp is tasked with providing provide anti-harassment and anti-retaliation training to managers and human resource personnel.

But that isn't good enough says employment attorney Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work. He tells the Washington Blade:

“The company will not have to add sexual orientation or gender identity to its non-discrimination policy,” Almeida said. “Even after this case, DynCorp can discriminate against LGBT employees while getting fat on billions of dollars in taxpayer money.

The members of the civil rights enforcement team at the Department of Labor currently have their hands tied and are not allowed to investigate federal contractors like DynCorp for discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation because President Obama has not yet signed the ENDA executive order.”

Indeed, in Friso's case EEOC was able to exploit gender biases to make the case Friso was a victim of gender discrimination, as there is no federal prohibition on discrimination on sexual orientation, real or perceived. The EEOC became involved in August 2011 alleging in federal district court in Virginia that the sex-based discrimination violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. From the complaint (emphasis mine):
Friso, who is approximately 5'4" tall, soft spoken and of small stature, was harassed by the Co-worker based on his sex, because Friso does not fit the male gender stereotype, does not meet his co-worker's idea of how men look or behave and/or does not conform to male gender stereotypes. The male Co-worker is approximately 6'0" tall and knew Friso to be married to a female at the time of the harassment.

Will Obama build on FDR's legacy? (Wikicommons)
Had Friso been subjected to strictly homophobic harassment he would have had no recourse. Almeida says this is the time for the president to amend the Executive Order 8802 to include sexual orientation and gender expression. First issued by Franklin D. Roosevelt it required companies to have non-discrimination policies to qualify for federal contracts. Initially, it pertained to just "race, color, creed and national origin" but has been regularly updated by Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson to reflect new understandings of what constitutes a marginalized minority.
“During just the past few months alone, the president has taken more than 20 strong executive actions under the slogan ‘We Can’t Wait’ for the current dysfunctional Congress to act,” Almeida said. “It’s a logical next step to sign an executive order granting LGBT Americans the freedom to work for federal contractors without fear of discrimination or harassment on the job.”
The White House has been silent on the issue so far, but many high-profile people have encouraged him to take the step. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called it "long overdue" in July. The executive order for non-discrimination was among the quick administrative fixes Human Rights Campaign and Center for American Progress presented to the incoming administration during transition.

Freedom to Work is currently mounting a campaign to lobby President Obama to put pen to paper and sign an executive order to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, more information here.

Originally posted to Milk Men And Women on Fri Jan 13, 2012 at 08:34 AM PST.

Also republished by Military Community Members of Daily Kos.

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