Hope v. California Youth Authority, 134 Cal. App. 4th 577 (2005)

Bruce Hope worked as a cook for the CYA for approximately five years during which time he was subjected to derogatory remarks on multiple occasions from his supervisor and others in the workplace based upon his sexual orientation. Although Hope complained to other supervisors and co-workers in the workplace about the harassment, it did not cease. When the wards threatened Hope with physical violence, the security officer who was assigned to the kitchen (and who was one of Hope’s harassers, having told the wards that Hope thought they were “pretty”) did nothing to protect Hope. Hope, who was diagnosed with HIV two months before starting the job, missed work on occasion and eventually developed a bleeding blister in one of his retinas, which led to a permanent loss of vision in one eye. (Hope’s doctor told him the blindness was caused by job stress and that it more commonly occurs among doctors and lawyers.) Hope was eventually placed on a medical leave of absence and never returned to work. At trial, the jury awarded Hope $917,014 in economic damages and $1 million in non-economic emotional distress damages. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment in Hope’s favor, holding that the CYA actually knew of the severe and/or pervasive harassment but failed to take any corrective action in response – or even to properly investigate the allegations.