Mechanic claims sexual orientation cost him his job

A homosexual man claims his former co-workers threatened his life because of his sexual orientation, forcing him to quit his job.

Joshua Updike filed a lawsuit Sept. 21 in Madison County Circuit Court against National Maintenance and Repair, Inc.

Updike claims he began working as a mechanic and maintenance worker at National Maintenance in February 2006.

"That beginning in approximately August of 2006 and continuing through the date of Plaintiff being forced to quit his employment on April 4, 2008, Plaintiff was subjected to sexual harassment in that he was subjected to severe, pervasive and ongoing sexual comments and criticism concerning his sexual orientation, sexual pictures and written graffiti that were written in the work areas against him, physical actions against him such as pushing, hitting, things being thrown at him; his work was tampered with and sabotaged; Plaintiff's food was tampered with and sabotaged; threats against Plaintiff's person and life were made on numerous occasions," the suit states.

Updike repeatedly complained to his bosses at National Maintenance of his problems, but no one took appropriate steps to investigate and stop the harassment, according to the complaint.

"Instead of taking effective action, the Defendant, by and through its agents, employees and managers, told Plaintiff that where Plaintiff worked was a 'prison-like mentality' and he would either have to quit or simply ignore the sexual harassment," the suit states.

In addition, Updike's bosses at National Maintenance discriminated against him because they took his title of lead man away from him, the complaint says.

Because of the alleged harassment, Updike claims he was forced to take a leave of absence from February 2008 through March 2008 for counseling. Nevertheless, when Updike returned to work, the harassment continued, according to the complaint.

"That the sexual harassment was so severe and pervasive as to make Plaintiff's working for the Defendant impossible so that Plaintiff was forced to resign on or about April 4, 2008," the suit states.

Because of the harassment, Updike sustained physical and mental injury and experienced pain, suffering, humiliation, embarrassment, loss of a normal life, loss of enjoyment of life, lost wages and lost benefits, the complaint says.

Updike is seeking a judgment of more than $100,000, plus costs.

Thomas O. Falb of Williamson, Webster, Falb and Glisson in Alton will be representing him.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-996.

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