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Court Allows Suit Over Anti-Gay Harassment

(CN) - A former Washington Mutual employee who claimed her co-worker harassed her for being a lesbian can proceed with her complaint, a California appeals court ruled, because the co-worker allegedly continued to make her work life miserable after initially stopping his verbal attacks.

Although Javier Gutierrez allegedly stopped making offensive comments to Yuko Dominguez sometime in May 2002, the court ruled that Dominguez's Aug. 8, 2003 complaint is not barred under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, because Gutierrez purportedly continued his campaign of harassment by blocking Dominguez's workstation and lying to her about her workload.

"A reasonable inference arises that this was just another way for Gutierrez to harass Dominguez about her sexual orientation without expressly saying so," Justice Rubin wrote.

In their arguments for summary judgment, which the trial court granted, WaMu and Gutierrez ignored Gutierrez's conduct after he allegedly stopped the verbal harassment.

The appeals court reversed, saying Dominguez could pursue her claims based on Gutierrez's conduct after May 2002.

The "harassing conduct was replaced by what appears to have been a daily or near daily campaign of interference with Dominguez's work that a trier of fact could find was motivated by the same discriminatory intent," Rubin wrote.

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