Male UPS Worker Called Out Sexism At Work, Awarded $500,000

If sexist comments are made in a workplace, but no woman is around to hear it, is it still discrimination? According to a landmark decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court, the answer is: yup.

Typically, under workplace discrimination law, it's the target of gross remarks who files a lawsuit. But United Parcel Service manager Michael Battaglia, 56, (pictured) was disturbed by the lewd remarks another male employee made about women, so complained, repeatedly. Battaglia also complained that managers were misusing corporate credit cards. He was subsequently demoted, and then sued for retaliation. On Wednesday, the court unanimously sided with Battaglia, and awarded him half a million dollars for economic damages. He could get even more. Damages for emotional distress are to be decided by a jury.

Battaglia says his boss, Wayne DeCraine, would make offensive sexual comments about female employees in all-male meetings, an allegation that DeCraine consistently denied. UPS also denied all wrong-doing. (The specific comments aren't disclosed in the suit.)

Battaglia, who's now been with UPS for 28 years, says he complained to DeCraine and other managers, but received no response. So he wrote an anonymous letter to the corporate office, complaining of that, as well as credit card abuse and other actions that he thought violated company policies. Soon after, Battaglia, who says he was a top performer in the district, was demoted for allegedly leaking information to another employee. He claims his superiors were trying to find a reason to demote him, and actually hired a private investigator to hack into his phone records, and find evidence he'd spoken to that worker.

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Battaglia sued under the state's law that bans workplace discrimination based on things like gender, religion, and race. In 2009, a jury decided with Battaglia, and awarded him a million dollars -- half for economic damages, and half for emotional distress. The defendant appealed, and the next court had a much stricter idea of what discrimination meant.

"They said our client, who is a man, was not protected for discrimination under the law for complaining about disgusting, vile, sexual comments made against women in the workplace," explains his attorney Maureen Binetti, "because no woman heard them and no woman was actually discriminated against."

The case winded its way to the state supreme court. Through this time -- eight years in total -- Battaglia stayed working at his lower position at UPS, sometimes embarrassed at how far he'd fallen, and frustrated that his boss never received any discipline at all.

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The Supreme Court ultimately granted Battaglia the more expansive interpretation of the law, and reaffirmed the $500,000 in economic damages, with damages for emotional distress to be decided by a jury.

"These were not the occasional words of a low-level employee having a bad day," Justice Helen Hoens wrote in a 55-page opinion, "but were the words of a supervisor, uttered in meetings with managerial employees, both repeatedly and routinely."

Battaglia is relieved that he's finally been vindicated. "It was eight long agonizing years. Eight long agonizing years," he says. "... They just thought I was a troublemaker. But the courts proved it. I wasn't a troublemaker. I was a solid UPS-er."

"I'm still proud to say I'm a UPS-er," he says.

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Laurey Williams

I have been trying to learn a little bit more about towing and the different rules and regulations involved with it lately... Are you familiar with this website at all: They seem to have a lot of good tips.

January 31 2014 at 6:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Mike, mike, mike, mike, mike!
What day is it Mike?!
Paaaay-eeeee Day!
That's right!

September 20 2013 at 7:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well done, Mike!
Thank you for standing up to big ugly brown! You and your counsel deserve every dime! Although, no amount of money can repay what those soulless ghouls took from you. May peace be with you now.

September 20 2013 at 7:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"If sexist comments are made in a workplace, but no woman is around to hear it, is it still discrimination?....."
If sexist comments are made in a workplace, but no woman is around to hear them, are they still discriminatory?
If a tree falls in the woods, but no woman is around to hear it.... did it still make a noise?

August 05 2013 at 7:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

UPS is by far one of the worse companies, when it comes to the treatment of employees. They simply treat their employees like CRAP! The only good thing the company offers are high drivers pay + benefits. But, its simply another Walmart is disguise that scrap off the backs of the small man to grow the corporate coffers (corporate greed) with horrid work conditions. They offer little or no breaks during shifts, long hours, high injury prone jobs(loss of limbs to death), unsafe working conditions (a lot swept under the table), no incentives (not even a holiday party/turkey or gift card, only management gets incentives - with stock options plus), no appreciation of workers (if you fell down on the floor they will step over you to get packages out, instead of tending to the employee), lots of bullying, harassment, retaliation and even physical violence (yes, supervisors hitting works - and they are not fired for such actions) from management team, high nepotism (family, friends, sexual partners, all have jobs in the same facilities), menial pay ($8.50 starting pay for back-breaking work), high turnover rates, equal opportunity is next to none (VERY male dominated and only diverse on the LOW end of the pay scale) and they hire the WORSE supervisors/managers in the WORLD - with little or no educational background and zero background checks and/or drug testing. Criminals handling your mail? Ever wonder why cellphones and high value item goes missing before it ever made it to your doorsteps? Its not just regular workers, but many supervisors have been arrested for stealing high value items as well and few still have jobs with the company(google search). They simply reshuffle bad supervisors to other areas and facilities. The brand looks solid (from the outside), but if you every had the opportunity to work for the company you will realize it is a different perspective the way its run. Bad management for a long time have been plaguing UPS. They hire anyone to do the job. It is simply a matter of time before Big Brown, becomes Belittle Blue, because at some point the poor management will run the company to the ground! They don't pay any attention to training bad supervisors. Remember it was poor management teams that ran PanAm, Eastern Airline, Woolworth, Montgomery Ward to the ground. I haven't heard one management team said they "LOVE their CAREER" selection with UPS. It's always, "its sucks" + lots of regrets! Thank goodness workers have the Teamster Union, because if they didn't the managers/supervisors would have a field day with more mistreatment! Im happy for this former manager, I guess he now can go to work everyday and wave his middle finger "Take that Suckers"! Even if he might just get 1/2 of the money in the end, less legal fees. It's well deserved, and it sends a message to the CEO of this company that if you continue along this track other employees at other sites will use this case as their benchmark (sets a precedent) to SUE you TOO!

July 24 2013 at 3:07 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Congratulations..You deserve to get a hand shake!

July 24 2013 at 2:10 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Nice job, Man.
Here's hoping that jury makes that 8 year wait worth it!

July 24 2013 at 10:18 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

BTW, this guy rocks!

July 24 2013 at 9:17 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Look out! Here comes the "grammar Nazi"! "The case WINDED its way to the state supreme court." Uh, "winded"? I looked it up in the Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary and didn't find it. Perhaps a better choice would have been "wended", although I only found the word "wend" with no "-ed" definition listed. Perhaps it was that darn auto-correcter thing's fault, LOL!

July 24 2013 at 9:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good for you, Michael, and congratulations for sticking to your principles (something that obviously his manager and others are lacking). UPS needs to seriously upgrade their sexual harrassment policy and ENFORCE it.

July 24 2013 at 9:13 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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