A federal jury awarded a Woodbridge man $521,000 in damages yesterday after finding that employees of First Virginia Banks Inc. harassed him and forced him to resign his maintenance job after he complained that his supervisor called him racially offensive names over several months.

Robert Lee Holland, 46, had testified that his former boss, Donald D. Brennan, called him Chicken Little, Watermelon Man and other derogatory names during his 10 months as a $7.50-an-hour maintenance worker at First Virginia's Falls Church headquarters.

"I hope they take a really good look at their policies at First Virginia," Holland said, leaving the courthouse with his wife and two children after the three-day civil trial. "I hope they learned that you can't be cruel and mean to people."

Thomas P. Jennings, an attorney for First Virginia, pointed out that the six-member jury awarded no damages on a separate claim asserting that the corporation intentionally inflicted emotional distress on Holland. Jennings also said that the ruling in U.S. District Court in Alexandria provided "no acknowledgement either way" on whether names such as Chicken Little are patently offensive to blacks.

After six hours of deliberation, the all-white jury awarded Holland $20,000 in compensatory damages and $501,000 in punitive damages. First Virginia owns 21 banking chains in three states and reports assets of $5.3 billion.

Victor M. Glasberg, Holland's attorney, said during closing arguments yesterday that it was "100 years wrong, maybe 1,000 years wrong" for Brennan and other First Virginia employees to refer to Holland by such names as Sparerib Kid and Bubba Blackwrench, both of which surfaced during the trial.

Glasberg also reminded the jury that Brennan conceded that he repeatedly called Holland Chicken Little. "The Brennan argument is: Hey, guys kid around. They call each other 'wops,' and {they call} large people 'Hindenberg' and small people 'shrimp.' "

In pretrial depositions, Brennan said he referred to friends as "wop," "dago" and other ethnically oriented names, but he bridled at the use of "kike" in reference to Jewish people.

"My father-in-law is Jewish and my wife is part-Jewish, and I don't appreciate the remark," Brennan said in court papers. "And I never used it."

Shirley C. Beavers Jr., a senior vice president of First Virginia, testified that the joking in the maintenance department had reached an "unprofessional" level and that he put a stop to it shortly after Holland complained to him.

Although Beavers said "nigger" was an unacceptable term under any circumstances, names such as Chicken Little and Watermelon Man were not inherently offensive to blacks, he maintained.

Kathleen T. Barlow, another attorney for First Virginia, argued in closing remarks that Chicken Little "was used in the context of joking that took place in the maintenance crew," and that Brennan "treated Mr. Holland like he treated everybody else."

Barlow, who several times characterized Holland as having a voracious appetite for chicken, added that Chicken Little is not offensive or racially oriented.

Glasberg, challenging the defense team's contention that Holland voluntarily resigned, said his client had no other job offer and needed money more than ever because of a new van he had purchased. Glasberg also argued that First Virginia executives retaliated against Holland by trying to force him out after he complained about racial harassment.

Glasberg read from a letter Holland sent Beavers after he learned the company had accepted a resignation he said he never tendered: "I have never submitted a letter of resignation or given any verbal indication of resignation," Holland wrote while recovering in Alexandria Hospital from a job-related back injury. " . . . What you are attempting to do is railroad me out of a job . . . . It's illegal and immoral."

Beavers testified that the letter did not indicate to him that Holland wanted to keep his job.