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Jury Awards Plaintiff Damages in Sexual Harassment Case Involving Female Boss

A former deputy constable has been award $567,000 by Galveston County jury for reportedly being sexually harassed by a female boss, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The award was issued by the jury on Friday for James P. Gist, 51. The jury decided that former Precinct 7 Constable Pam Matranga, 55, sexually harassed Gist from May of 2011 to October of 2011.

Matranga was accused of making suggestive comments and pressing Gist’s head between her breasts. Gist claims he was fired when Matranga learned that he was trying to record her advances on him.

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Anthony Griffin, the attorney for Gist, said, “They rejected this whole notion that you get away with it because you are a female.” Griffin also said that his client was awarded $200,000 more than what he asked for originally.

Matranga said that the verdict was unfair and that Gist filed the lawsuit out of revenge because she would not promote him on the job.

“It was a circus for the last two years,” she said. The lawsuit was filed just days prior to the 2012 election. She lost that election after being the constable for eight years.

“It was a horrible, horrible time,” Matranga said. “Mr. Gist said he would make my life a living hell, and that’s what he did. It’s over, we closed the door.”

Matranga did admit during testimony that she joked with Gist about him attending a ‘chunky chick night’ at a strip club where she would be allowed to perform. To go along with that, Matranga could not recall if she mimicked a topless dancer doing a lap dance at Gist’s office chair though.

Matranga said that she never put Gist’s head under her shirt. She did however admit that she would do it for other deputies.

“If anybody was in a bad mood, like if Phil was in a bad mood, I would say, ‘Phil,’ or to anyone, ‘Do you need to go under the shirt?” she said during a deposition. In the same deposition, Matranga said that she never shirted Gist because he thought the act was ‘creepy.’

During the lawsuit, two former employees testified that Matranga would put employees under her shirt multiple times and used profanity incessantly. They also said she referenced her body parts often. Matranga was eventually dropped from the lawsuit. This left the county responsible for the damages awarded by the jury.

The county argued that it should be not be held responsible because Gist never issued a sexual harassment complaint with the Human Resources office.

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