April 2019 Verdicts and Settlements
Published by Eric A. Welter on June 14, 2019
Our summary of recent verdicts and settlements for April 2019.
California: Alki Davide, Coca-Cola heir, to pay $11 million in a sexual harassment suit. Chastity Jones, a former sales accountant for one of David’s companies, claimed she was sexually harassed and assaulted by David and was later fired for refusing David’s sexual advances.
David has holdings in multiple companies including Hologram USA and FilmOn.TV, where Jones was employed. David was accused of groping Jones and terminating her for not sleeping with him. He also brought in a male stripper to the workplace to celebrate an executive’s birthday. David’s companies knew of the sexual harassing behavior but failed to stop him. Jones alleged she suffered from PTSD due to these incidents.
The trial was dramatic, with two weeks of arguments. The parties attempted to use Instagram photos of Jones and David as evidence to tarnish each other’s reputation, including photos that shows lavish vacations that Jones took during this time. The photos were not admitted as evidence. During trial, David stormed out of the courtroom calling Jones a liar after Jones announced she would be seeking $10 million in damages. The jury awarded Jones $3.1 million in compensatory damages and $8 million in punitive damages for committing sexual battery.
Arizona: City of Tucson to pay a local firefighter, $3.8 million for sexual discrimination and retaliation case. After a five-year legal battle, a jury concluded that the Tucson Fire Department had sexually discriminated against firefighter Carrie Clark and adversely retaliated against her when she asked for a designated area to pump breast milk.
Clark reached out to the Chief before her first day back from giving birth. Clark asked for a private room to pump while on duty. Because no policies were in place for this type of request, the request was left to authority figures to decide as to where Clark could express breast milk. The Fire Department’s solution was to assign Clark to swing shifts where they would send her to different fire stations to accommodate her request, although no rooms were available. Because of the unavailability, this led to Clark needing to take time off from work and eventually stressing her to a point where she sometimes was unable to produce milk for her baby. Co-workers did not agree that she needed to be accommodated and some even thought she was not fit for duty.
Discrimination and retaliation continued even after Clark became pregnant again. She was retaliated against by being instructed to perform firefighting drills that no other members of her crew were required to perform.
California: Genentech to pay a black IT employee over $250,000 to settle a race-discrimination suit. The employee had been accused of stealing his sandwich and falsifying his timecards.
Timothy Pruitt worked at Genentech’s Vacaville, CA office for over 21 years after being fired in retaliation to a complaint made about his supervisor for treating him differently from his other colleagues. His supervisor would constantly get on his case for tardiness and often follow him around the office.
This led to Pruitt taking a medical leave recommended by his doctor, for mental health treatment. Upon his return, he yet again complained about race discrimination and shortly after 3 months from returning from his leave of absence, he was fired for allegedly stealing a sandwich and falsifying timecards.
Illinois: Rivers Casinos to pay $60,000 to settle a disability discrimination suit. The Casino, operating under Midwest Gaming, LLC, wrongfully denied a reasonable accommodation for additional medical leave to seek cancer treatment.
Former employee Donnan Lake requested a few weeks of leave to have surgery for treatment of Sarcoma, a type of cancer he had fought since childhood. Lake was not provided additional leave and was later fired from his position.
Texas: Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas to pay $75,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. The Healthcare company refused to hire deaf applicant because of her disability.
The applicant applied for a claims examiner position via an online application. After submitting her resume, she was invited to complete an assessment exam that included an audio portion. The audio portion of the exam did not contain captions nor visible accommodations for applicants with hearing impairments, therefore she was unable to complete the application process.
Despite repeated attempts to contact BCBS to request an accommodation for the audio portion of the assessment, the applicant was not accommodated and was unable to complete the application. She was denied employment based on her ability to complete the application.
Tennessee: Cummins, Inc. to pay over $75,000 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit. Cummins allegedly paid a female employee less than her male counterpart. At the request of the female employee, Cummins conducted a salary review to determine if she was being compensated appropriately. The review showed that she was being paid less, although the company never increased her pay to match her male coworker.
New York: Housing provider, Help USA, Inc. to pay $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment suit. The nationwide company allowed harassment of female employees at its Bronx, NY location. The supervisor at the Bronx location would regularly make sexually offensive comments and unwelcome advances toward female employees. Despite employee complaints, the supervisor’s conduct went unchecked.Topics: Arizona, California, EEOC, EEOC verdicts, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Illinois, New York, Tennessee, Texas