A Portland, Maine jury has awarded $1M to a gay man who says Express Jet Airlines unfairly passed him over for promotion because he is gay.
According to court documents, the company faced a complaint in 2003-04 from three female employees who had unsuccessfully applied for an open supervisory job. At the time, Express Jet managers at the jetport were all gay men. The women complained that the general manager at the time, who was gay, would hire only gay men. The general manager lost his job, according to court documents. Over the next four years, that position became open four times. Russell filled in several times, and wanted the job, but was told by regional managers not to waste his time applying for it, the documents said. “Our theory was they decided they did not want another gay man out there,” Loranger said. At one point, according to the documents, the company hired a general manager whom a regional executive described as a “real man.” That general manager made disparaging comments about gay people at work, according to the complaint. Russell left the job in 2007 “because of the discriminatory treatment,” court documents said.
The jury awarded $500,000 for emotional distress, $500,000 for punitive damages and $47,000 in lost wages.