The stars at night are not the only things big and bright in Texas. Apparently, former Galveston County Constable, Pam Matranga, liked to brighten her deputies’ days by exposing them to her big breasts. While many a man may like the idea of their lady boss putting the ta-tas in their face or inviting them to a strip clubs “chunky chicks” night to see them perform, James Gist is not one of them. On the other hand, he is probably very happy with the $567,000 jury verdict he received.
The large size of the verdict may be an issue on appeal, especially in a state as hostile to plaintiffs as Texas can be. But, there is no question that the jury’s message was loud and clear: Do not pull this stuff at work. Further reading shows Ms. Matranga’s deposition testimony was both damaging and rather clueless. She admitted to pulling her blouse over the head of several deputies if she thought they were having a bad day. Though she denied doing it to Gist, it showed that employers and managers have to be on the defensive at all times. If 14 out of 15 employees have no problem with the conduct, but the 15th has a problem with it, then you need to address that professionally and probably cease the conduct.
This was not done in this case and now, the county of Galveston is going to foot the bill over this. This is especially troubling since there was likely a Sexual Harassment policy and grievance procedure in place for the entire county. Law enforcement is a lot like the military and many other professions. There can a be a great deal of jocularity, bordering on the offensive, but often with no malice intended at all. But when it starts to detract from the workplace, for the good of everyone, it is best to keep the sexually based jocularity far away from the workplace.