Black lesbian wins UPS lawsuit

By Leslie Feinberg, Workers World, 30 March 2005

“According to my former supervisor, I wasn't ‘feminine’ enough,” Kathy Hoskins recalls. Hoskins, an African American out lesbian, sued her former employer, United Parcel Service, for what she described as severe, widespread and ongoing work-place harassment that led to wrongful firing.

After looking at the facts in her case, a San Francisco Superior Court jury agreed.

The panel questionnaire concluded “that Hoskins was subjected to ‘unwanted harassing conduct’ that was severe enough to create a hostile work environment.” The jury also found that UPS bosses did not take action to stop the abuse and that she was unjustly terminated. (PlanetOut Network)

As a result, the week of March 11 the panel awarded Hoskins $13,670 in economic damages, $50,000 compensation for emotional distress, and ordered the company to pay her attorney's fees and costs.

Hoskins was a package car driver at the San Bruno, Calif., facility of the world's biggest package delivery company for 14 years—from September 1988 to February 2003. Court records reveal that when she was hired there were only three other women in the work force of 200 drivers, and only one other African American woman.

The supervisor who reportedly haras sed her about her gender expression did not hire a single woman during his five years in management at San Bruno. During his whole 22-year career in UPS management he only promoted one woman.

Hoskins and her lawyer, Waukeen Q. McCoy, announced plans to appeal an earlier decision by another court. That ruling had barred Hoskins from suing UPS for sex discrimination under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

“The outcome of this case,” declared McCoy, “sends a clear message to UPS and the rest of corporate America that harassment based on gender stereotypes will not be tolerated. Discrimination in the work place must stop, and stop now. We will continue to fight this case against UPS at the appellate level.”