A Case of Coors

The brewery may have gone too far in trying to prevent sexual harassment.

She ends the first conversation with, "Say a prayer for me, brother."

"I will, sister," he responds.

James's charges of sexual and racial discrimination against Coors were dismissed. So were the charges against Tara Scherschligt. The jury did, however, find that Coors had breached James's contract and defamed him. Jurors said the company had not acted in good faith in its statements to law-enforcement authorities. Coors was ordered to pay James a total of $730,000, $200,000 of it in punitive damages. Mannon was to pay him $650,000. Both parties will appeal.

Jagged little Pilsner: After he was fired from Coors, Homer James sued his employer and the woman who accused him of harassment.
Anthony Camera
Jagged little Pilsner: After he was fired from Coors, Homer James sued his employer and the woman who accused him of harassment.

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Previous Westword articles

"Delivering the Message"
September 23, 1999
The women at UPS bleed as brown as the men, and they have the scars to prove it.

"The Other Coors Spokesman"
September 2, 1999
International Mr. Leather wants to tell the world: It's a new day for gays and Coors.

"Special Handling"
May 29, 1997
Itís a guy thing: Two UPS men claim sexual harassment by another man.

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"James didn't raise any claimed errors at the time of the appeal board, so why are they raised now?" says Coors spokeswoman Aimee St. Clair. "On defamation, we believe the evidence shows any statements were made in good faith. We don't believe there was any damage caused. We acted responsibly. We acted ethically. We have a responsibility, when someone comes forward and says they're being harassed, to investigate."

"It's essential to protect women from sexual harassment in the workplace, and men, too, for that matter," says Steve Silvern, another of James's attorneys. "What's unfortunate is when a woman misuses that protection to protect herself from discipline or to set up her own false lawsuit. And it's scary when an employer misuses a commitment against sexual misconduct to act in bad faith. The jury found beyond a reasonable doubt that Mannon and Coors should be punished for what they did to Homer."

Mannon's attorney, Timothy Schimberg, comments, "As much as we believe in the jury system, we are confused with that verdict and the message it sends to women in the workplace concerning coming forward regarding inappropriate workplace behavior. Yvonne is one courageous woman. That story of courage can't be taken away regardless of the verdict. And as both Yvonne and Coors said in closing arguments, women in the workplace should thank her for coming forward."

Homer James could use the money the jury awarded him. His current job driving a forklift began at $8 an hour, and the dust kicked up by the machinery aggravates his asthma. But money isn't foremost in his mind. "The main thing is getting my name cleared," he says, adding that Mannon's accusations and Coors's response to them have devastated his family. "The little one, she's eleven -- she was going to a Christian school," he says. "She came out one time and said, 'Daddy, the teacher said a prayer today, hoping you would get your job back.' I broke down right there."

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