Steamy female boss lands in hot water

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The Independent Online
MEN who complain that they, too, can be sexually harassed at work at last have legal evidence to flourish in the face of their tormentors. They can point to the plight of Sabino Gutierrez, an executive at a whirlpool bath manufacturer in the United States.

A jury in Los Angeles awarded Mr Gutierrez more than dollars 1m (pounds 650,000) damages after hearing how he lived in fear of a female boss, whom he accused of persistently kissing and groping him and bullying him into having sex.

The 33-year-old manager complained that when he attempted to resist Maria Martinez, the company's chief financial officer, she threatened him. And when he told her he was engaged to be married, his office was demolished and he was demoted.

But he was, he claimed, frightened of rejecting her because he did not want to lose his job at Cal-Spas in Pomona, southern California. After months of pressure, he agreed to have intercourse with her at his house.

'When I argued against her advances, she became very angry,' he said. 'I was afraid if I didn't do it, they would put me out on the street.' After his wedding, some months later, he returned to find his desk had disappeared, along with all his belongings. He resigned when his duties were assigned to another employee.

According to Gloria Allred, an attorney whose firm represented him, the case is believed to be the first in the US involving a male victim of sexual harassment. She said Ms Martinez, 39 - who is married with two children - 'would go into Mr Gutierrez's office, close the door behind her, embrace him, kiss him and continuously tell him that her interests in him were sexual. The sexual overtures increased and continued, culminating in Ms Martinez . . . fondling his genitals'.

A Superior Court jury unanimously found he was a victim of unlawful sexual harassment. It ordered Cal-Spas to pay him dollars 375,000 (pounds 243,000) for emotional distress, dollars 82,000 (pounds 53,000) for economic losses and dollars 550,000 (pounds 357,000) in punitive damages.

Ms Martinez, who was ordered to pay dollars 10,000 damages, refused to comment, although she had previously denied the allegation.

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