Recent Jury Verdicts and Settlements

Our latest update after the break.

VA — “Big verdict underscores importance of background checks.”

PA — “The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced a major settlement of a sex discrimination lawsuit for $1,450,000 and significant equitable relief against Schott North America, a multinational developer and manufacturer of special glass and specialty materials, components and systems, based in Elmsford, N.Y. The EEOC charged that Schott laid off women because of their sex after a company reorganization in October 2004 of its specialty glass plant in Duryea, Pa. Prior to the reorganization, glass production at the plant was generally divided into two parts, the “hot end” and the “cold end”; 95.3% of the hot-end workers were male and 76.6% of the cold-end workers were female.

As part of the reorganization, the company created a new position of “melting line operator” and used a “skills matrix” to determine who would obtain these new positions. The glass company laid off employees whom it did not select for the melting line operator position. In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that the skills matrix system benefited male employees, did not accurately measure the skills truly needed to perform the melting line operator job and had an adverse impact on female applicants – who were selected for layoff at a significantly higher rate than male employees. The EEOC contended that six plaintiff intervenors and five class members were not selected for melting line operator positions and were laid off because of their sex, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

WI — Wisconsin amends human rights law to allow punitive damages claims up to $300,000.

AL — “A federal jury ordered Sumter County Sheriff Johnny Hatter to pay $2.4 million to two former employees in a 2001 lawsuit that alleged sexual harassment and wrongful termination. The jury ordered Hatter to pay $17,100 in back pay and $200,000 in punitive damages to Kimberly Smith-McKenzie, who said that Hatter offered her a full-time job if she participated in phone sex with him. They awarded her an additional $750,000 for emotional distress. Jurors also ordered the sheriff to pay more than $1.4 million to Bruce Walker, a deputy who said he was fired after he discussed the sexual harassment with a state investigator.”

MA — School district settles sex harassment cases involving student for $150,000.

CA — “Catholic Charities, one of the largest non-profit providers of social services in the San Francisco Bay Area, has agreed to pay $30,000 and other relief to settle an age discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC’s suit had charged that Catholic Charities fired a highly qualified 71-year-old advocate of the aged . . . and replaced him with a less qualified woman half his age. [Plaintiff] holds a master’s degree in public administration, and previously worked as a case manager at the Goldman Institute on Aging and as a commissioner on San Francisco’s Commission on Aging.”

TN — “United Parcel Service (UPS) will offer monetary damages and religious accommodations to a 19-year employee at UPS’s Bartlett, Tenn., facility to resolve a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The lawsuit, EEOC v. UPS, Inc. (Civil Action No. 2:07-cv-02576 filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee), charged UPS violated federal law by refusing to accommodate the religious beliefs of one of its drivers and trying to force him to work past sundown on his Sabbath, which violates his tenets as a member of the United Church of God.”

AZ — “An eight person federal jury has returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in a sexual harassment lawsuit against AutoZone, Inc., the Memphis, Tenn.-based national auto parts retail giant, the EEOC announced today. The jury ruled that AutoZone violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by subjecting employee [Plaintiff] to a sexually hostile work environment. [Plaintiff] complained about the sex harassment, but AutoZone failed to take immediate and appropriate action to stop it, the EEOC said. The jury verdict in favor of the EEOC provides [Plaintiff] with $65,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.

The evidence presented at trial by the EEOC showed that [Plaintiff] was subjected to egregious sexual harassment when she worked at the Mesa, Ariz.-based AutoZone in 2003. The EEOC presented evidence that the store manager repeatedly forced [Plaintiff’s] head down to his genitals and made crude sexual remarks to her. At least one incident was caught on the store’s video camera, but AutoZone maintained it lost the video prior to trial, along with all records of [Plaintiff’s] complaints and the “investigation” AutoZone claims it conducted.”

AZ — “A Phoenix-based international military contractor will pay $110,000 and furnish other relief to settle lawsuit charging a sex and age discrimination and unlawful retaliation filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC’s suit (Case No. 2:07-CV-01656-PHX-ECV) in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona charged that Simula, Inc. discriminated against temporary employees . . . by paying them less than male employees who performed the same job duties and not making them permanent employees. The EEOC also charged that Simula discriminated against [Plaintiff] on the basis of her age and ended [another Plaintiff’s] temporary employment in retaliation for her complaints of sexual harassment.”

KY — “The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced a class litigation settlement under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act for one half million dollars and significant remedial relief in a case against Fire Mountain Restaurants LLC, doing business as Ryan’s Family Steakhouse (Ryan’s). According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, filed in September 2008 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, Paducah Division (Civil Action No. 5:08-cv-00160-TBR), Ryan’s subjected black and female employees to a sex-based and race-based hostile work environment, as well as adverse terms and conditions of employment. In some instances, black workers were terminated because of their race. The EEOC charged that white employees were also harassed because of their association with black coworkers and family members. The mistreatment included being referred to as “n—-r lovers” and “race traitors” by white managers. The EEOC also asserted that female workers were harassed because of their gender, and all complainants suffered retaliation for reporting the discrimination. The sex-based hostile work environment included male managers physically intimidating women, making sexual advances, and calling them gender-related epithets such as “b—–s.”

TX — “A San Antonio maintenance company and a real estate management company will pay $29,500 and furnish other relief to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. San Antonio Building Services & Supply, LLC, (SABSS) and CB Richard Ellis, Inc. (CBRE), the company that purchased the Trammell Crow Company, violated federal law by firing a day porter at a Wells Fargo Bank building in San Antonio because of her sex, the EEOC charged. SABSS is a locally owned company that provided janitorial services to the building pursuant to a service contract it entered with Trammell Crow, which managed the property.

According to the EEOC’s suit, the day porter was fired after a health-related absence from work, supposedly because the employers wanted “someone with more mechanical and maintenance experience,” even though there had been no problems with the woman’s performance. The employers replaced her with a man who had no more mechanical and maintenance experience than she had, the EEOC said, demonstrating that the remarks about “experience” were simply gender stereotypes without foundation. The EEOC also charged that SABSS refused to rehire the female employee in retaliation for her filing a sex-based discrimination complaint with the EEOC.”

FL — “The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced that national retail giant Dillard’s, Inc. will pay $110,000 and provide significant remedial relief to settle a same-sex harassment lawsuit involving two male victims. According to the EEOC’s suit, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Dillard’s permitted a sexually hostile work environment for men at its Fashion Square Mall store in Orlando, Fla. The EEOC charged that a male supervisor engaged in verbal and physical sexual harassment of a male sales associate and a young dockworker when the supervisor exposed himself, propositioned the men, and made sexually explicit and derogatory comments. The EEOC said that Dillard’s ignored complaints about the harasser.”

WVA — “Brooks Run Mining Company and staffing firm Neal & Associates will pay $115,000 to settle a sex-based discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. In its lawsuit, the EEOC had charged that women security guards as a class were discriminated against because of their sex. The EEOC asserted that once the women complained about sexual harassment, they were prevented – either by layoffs or transfers – from working at the Brooks Run Cucumber mine site, although security jobs were available to men.”

TX — “B&E Industries, doing business as Spirit Stop, will pay $67,500 to two former employees to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. B&E Industries, headquartered in Arlington, Texas, manufactures and then markets customized spirit items for high schools. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit (Civil Action No.1:08-CV-00132 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas), B&E Industries subjected female employees to a sexually hostile environment. The EEOC charged that the women were repeatedly subjected to crude and demeaning comments and conduct by the supervisor while working as telemarketers to sell spirit items like team flags, cups and hats. According to the EEOC, the harassment and verbal abuse occurred on the sales floor and in open meetings.”

MT — Judge denies motion for new trial in gender discrimination case.

CA — Attorneys awarded over $700,000 in fees in case involving harassment based on false rumors that police sergeant was gay. The fee award follows a $1.2 million jury verdict.