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EEOC sues DynCorp International for sexual stereotype-based harassment of mechanic working in Iraq

DynCorp International, LLC, a U.S.-based private military contractor and aircraft maintenance company, violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by subjecting a male employee working in Iraq to a hostile work environment based on his sex, and by transferring him after he complained, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

DynCorp receives more than 96 percent of its $2 billion in annual revenues from the federal government. It employed approximately 16,800 people in 2009.

A complaint filed by the commission in federal court in Virginia on August 17 alleges that from October 2006 through January 2007, James Friso, an aircraft sheet metal/structural mechanic working in Taji, Iraq, was subjected to harassment based on his sex by a male coworker (EEOC v DynCorp Int’l, LLC, EDVa, No 1:11-cv-874). The alleged harassment included daily derogatory sex-based comments, accusations that Friso is gay and engaged in homosexual acts, and descriptions of homosexual acts. Friso, who is heterosexual, is 5’4” and of small stature. He is married, and the EEOC claims the coworker knew he is married and not homosexual.

Despite this knowledge, according to the EEOC, the harasser subjected Friso to the harassment because Friso did not match the gender stereotype for a man. Although Friso complained to DynCorp’s management and human resources representatives about the coworker’s unwelcome and offensive conduct, the EEOC says the harassment continued until Frisco was transferred to another work site. The commission contends that Friso’s transfer was in retaliation for his complaints about the harassment.

The EEOC is seeking back pay for Friso, along with compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief.

“Employers need to remember that sex discrimination includes harassment based on sexual stereotyping. Once an employee complains of sex-based harassment in the workplace, the employer is required under federal law to act reasonably to prevent further harassment,” advised Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC’s Charlotte District, whose jurisdiction includes the state of Virginia. She also noted that federal law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who report sexual harassment and that the EEOC “aggressively” prosecutes cases in which an employer has turned a blind eye to known harassment or retaliates against a employee who complains.