Last Friday, a federal jury sitting in Pittsburgh awarded more than $13 million to a plaintiff who alleged that her former employer discriminated against her on the basis of sex.
Sandra Robertson sued her former employer, and its parent company, alleging that she was subject to a hostile work environment and discrimination based on her sex and that she was terminated in retaliation for complaining about the discrimination. According to court records, Robertson claimed that her fellow supervisors (who were all males) regularly swore at her, made jokes at her expense, and undermined her authority.
Robertson eventually filed a complaint with the human resources manager and eight days later was subject to disciplinary action for reasons that appeared to be trumped up or fabricated. Robertson filed a second sex discrimination complaint approximately seven months later. At that time, the company instituted an investigation that Robertson claimed was biased. At the conclusion of the investigation, the company determined that Robertson should be fired for performance issues and the company terminated her employment.
The jury awarded Robertson $400,000 in compensatory damages, $170,000 in back pay, $350,000 in front pay and $12,500,000 in punitive damages. The company can appeal the verdict. Metz Lewis offers training and guidance on sexual harassment issues in the workplace to help clients avoid this type of outcome.
If your company is interested in sexual harassment training or needs advice on sexual harassment issues, please contact Rachel Felton at firstname.lastname@example.org.