Recent Jury Verdicts And Settlements

In one of our recent jury verdict and settlement updates, we noted that a large number of announcements were coming from the EEOC.  Our latest update, which is after the break, contains an unusual amount of announcements from the EEOC as well.  This recent uptick in verdicts and settlements from the EEOC is the most since we started following jury verdicts and settlements.  Does it portend a trend in more enforcement by the EEOC?  Or does it indicate that defendants are more interested in settling cases and being done with them?  Only time will tell.

IL — White municipal worker wins $200,000 jury verdict in reverse discrimination lawsuit after being fired for reporting African American woman in restroom to social services for spanking her child.

CA — Winery owner found not liable on sexual harassment claims.  One juror commented after the trial, “No one had a whole lot of sympathy for her. We felt she worked the situation.”

TX — “A Houston-area surgical center will pay $290,000 and provide significant remedial relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act . . . .  The EEOC had charged that First Street Surgical Center, L.P. and First Surgical Partners, LLC subjected several female workers at their Bellaire, Texas, facility to a sexually hostile work environment and that First Street retaliated against women who complained about the unlawful conduct.  The EEOC’s lawsuit (Civil Action No. 4:08cv2894, filed in September 2008 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division) asserted that a male nurse, who eventually was promoted to a supervisory position, made unwanted sexual advances and sexual jokes and innuendos to female colleagues and subordinates. The EEOC said that women who rejected the advances or complained about harassment were then burdened with more difficult job assignments and had their work performance unfairly disparaged. A nurse who made a written complaint detailing acts of alleged sexual harassment by the supervisor was fired the following day. Another woman was given a poor evaluation because she complained about harassment.”

 CT — Judge enters $1.3 million judgment in USERRA case.  The Connecticut Employment Law Blog reports that “[n]ine months after a jury found his employer liable for firing a reservist called to active duty after the 9/11 attacks, a federal judge awarded [plaintiff] over $1.3M in damages on his federal claim in a decision handed down late last week.  It is believed to be the largest judgment ever awarded under The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), a federal law that protects service members’ reemployment rights when returning from a period of service in the uniformed services, including those called up from the reserves or National Guard, and prohibits employer discrimination based on military service or obligation.”

CA — Court enters default judgment against company in harassment lawsuit brought by EEOC.  The Court awarded each of the employees $50,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.  Courthouse News has a copy of the order here.

MI — “MayfieldGentry Realty Advisors, L.L.C., a Detroit securities investment firm, has agreed to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) . . . .  The EEOC had charged that MayfieldGentry violated Title VII of the Civil Rights of 1964 when it fired an employee because of her pregnancy.  According to the EEOC’s lawsuit (Case No. 2:08-cv-14105 filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan), in October 2006 [plaintiff] was hired as a receptionist / administrative assistant. The EEOC said that on the second day of her employment, [plaintiff] advised her supervisor that she was pregnant. A few months later, the EEOC said, MayfieldGentry hired [plaintiff’s] replacement and required her to train the new employee. Within a day after [plaintiff] returned from maternity leave, MayfieldGentry told [plaintiff] that her position had been eliminated and terminated her employment.  Under the consent decree settling the suit, MayfieldGentry agreed to train its managerial staff on Title VII’s prohibition of pregnancy discrimination. In addition, [plaintiff] will receive $25,000 in monetary compensation.”

NY — “Judge Harold Baer of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York gave final approval to a sweeping consent decree between the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and B & H Foto and Electronics Corp. (B & H) . . . .  The decree resolves a national origin discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC on behalf of 149 Hispanic warehouse workers at one of the largest retail sellers of photographic, computer and electronic equipment in the New York metropolitan area.  The EEOC’s lawsuit, filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleged that B & H paid Hispanics in its warehouses in Manhattan and Brooklyn less than non-Hispanic workers and failed to promote them or provide health benefits because of their national origin (EEOC v. B & H Foto and Electronics Corp. No. 07 CV-9241). Under the court-approved consent decree, B & H agreed to cooperate with the EEOC in a claims process to distribute $4.3 million in monetary relief to 149 employees who were paid less, not promoted, or denied benefits because they are Hispanic.”

NY — “Adelphi University of Garden City, N.Y., one of the largest universities on Long Island, has agreed to settle a pay discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for more than $300,000 and significant remedial relief . . . .  The EEOC had charged that Adelphi paid a group of women professors less than male professors performing the same work.  According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a class of female full-time professors was paid less than male professors of the same or lesser rank teaching within the same school. This violation had been ongoing since at least April 2004, the EEOC said. Pay discrimination by gender violates the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (EEOC v. Adelphi University, No. 07-CV-4001).”

NM — “An Albuquerque-based McDonald’s restaurant franchise will pay $115,000 and provide significant remedial relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of two young female employees, including a teenager . . . .  The EEOC’s suit charged that [plaintiff], then age 17, was subjected to egregious physical and verbal sexual harassment, including severe physical abuse, by a former management official of LPG Enterprises, Inc. The company operates at least 15 McDonald’s franchises in Albuquerque and surrounding areas.  According to the EEOC, [plaintiff] was also subjected to retaliation and forced to resign her employment because of the harassment, the retaliation, and the employer’s failure to provide appropriate preventive or remedial relief. The EEOC also obtained relief for [a second plaintiff], who, the EEOC alleged, was also subjected to sexual harassment by the same manager.”

OH — “The Alpha Group of Delaware, Inc., a non-profit Ohio corporation located in Delaware, Ohio, will pay $160,000 to settle a sex-based harassment and retaliation lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), announced . . . . The EEOC had charged that Alpha Group of Delaware, which provides employment, rehabilitation and adult day support services, subjected female workers to a hostile work environment and then retaliated against a high-ranking female executive who had complained about the harassment against women.  The EEOC says in the suit that a former controller and human resources manager of The Alpha Group received complaints of sex-based harassment from female employees concerning a newly hired CEO. Rather than address the hostile workplace, the company let her go after she reported the complaints to the board of directors.”

MA — “Qualex, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Eastman Kodak, will pay $272,000 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) . . . .  The lawsuit, filed in May 2008 in federal court in Connecticut, alleged that Qualex, a photo processing company, and its parent company, Eastman Kodak, violated federal law by targeting older workers for termination through a reduction in force (RIF).  According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Rochester, N.Y.-based Qualex subjected [plaintiff] and other workers aged 40 or older to age discrimination through the inequitable RIF at its facility in East Hartford, Conn. (since closed) in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The average age of those who lost their jobs from the RIF was over 50, the EEOC said, and far exceeded the average age of employees retained following the action.”

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