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No Horseplay Here: Jury Awards Employee $2.4 Million in Damages for Sex Discrimination

A company’s potential monetary liability for workplace discrimination can be crippling. A jury in the U.S. District for the Northern District of Illinois had awarded a male grocery store butcher $2.4 million in compensatory and punitive damages on his claim of sexual harassment against a small grocery store located in the south side of Chicago. The lower court ultimately reduced the award to $477,500, because of Title VII’s statutory damage caps and the excessiveness of the award. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has affirmed the award. Smith v. Rosebud Farm, Inc., No. 17-2626, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 21481 (7th Cir. Aug. 2, 2018).

Jury Award of Emotional Distress Damages Must Be Reduced by Millions, Judge Rules

A federal judge in New York has ruled that a plaintiff could recover only a small portion of the $2.5 million a jury awarded him, granting the defendant’s request for the reduction. Saber v. New York State Department of Financial Services, No. 1:15-cv-05944 (S.D. N.Y. July 20, 2018). Plaintiff Nasser Saber, who is Muslim, had filed an eight-count complaint alleging that the employer, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS), discriminated against him based on his religion and national origin, and otherwise retaliated against him in violation of Title VII, Sections 1981 and 1983, and New York Executive Law Section 296.

Estée Lauder Pays $1.1 Million to Settle EEOC Parental Leave Discrimination Claim

Under a court-approved consent decree, Estée Lauder will pay $1.1 million to settle claims that its parental leave policy discriminated against new fathers. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed the charges on behalf of a class of 210 male employees.

Restaurant Chain’s Spoiled Internal Investigation Leads to $8M Jury Award for Fired Employee

A Fresno, California jury has awarded nearly $8 million to former Chipotle employee Jeanette Ortiz on her claim of wrongful discharge.

Jury Enters Sexual Harassment Verdict in Favor of Plaintiff; Awards No Damages

A jury in the Northern District of Georgia recently entered a verdict in favor of the plaintiff in a sexual harassment case, yet awarded her no damages.

Restaurant Chain Pays Nearly $3 Million to Settle Age Discrimination Claims

Discriminating against employees or job applicants because of their age is not just wrong - it also can prove costly, as one employer recently found out.

Reward for Highest Score: No Promotion, But $1.2 Million Jury Verdict

A long-time New Jersey police department employee applies for a promotion to captain. On the promotional exam, he scores higher than any other applicant. He isn’t promoted. His consolation prize, however, is a jury verdict of more than $1.2 million in state court last month.

Pay Bias Litigation Results in Costly Settlement

Pay bias litigation made the news recently when a North Carolina federal judge approved a $45 million settlement of class action claims brought by former and current female managers who alleged that Family Dollar paid them less than it paid comparable male managers. Ending a case that began over a decade ago, the deal required that Family Dollar would not only make the large settlement payment but also review its manager compensation framework with labor experts. Alleging that Family Dollar’s corporate policies and high-level management decisions were discriminatory, the class plaintiffs brought claims under the Equal Pay Act in addition to making claims for disparate impact and treatment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. This issue is not going away; other recent press accounts have noted that female doctors earned significantly less than their male peers do (and that the gap was most pronounced in Charleston, South Carolina!).

$1 Jury Verdict Yields 300k in Attorneys Fees to Plaintiff’s Counsel

In a case alleging sexual harassment by a researcher against a research assistant, the trial court ordered more than 300k in attorneys’ fees after the jury awarded a mere $1 in damages to the plaintiff. Jenkins v. The University of Minnesota et al., No. 13-CV-1548 (D. Minn. Oct. 13, 2017). The court awarded attorneys’ fees because it found that nonmonetary considerations significantly affected the case.

Iowa Waives Appeal of $2.2 million Verdict In Favor of Settlement

On August 24, 2017 we reported that former communications director for the Iowa Senate Republican Caucus, Kristen Anderson, was awarded $2.2 million in damages by a jury that found Anderson had been fired in retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.