December 2018 Verdicts and Settlements
Published by Eric A. Welter on January 17, 2019
Our summary of recent verdicts and settlements for December 2018.
Illinois: Jury awards $11 million in regards to a Country Club Hills firefighter sexual harassment, gender discrimination suit. Firefighter, Dena Lewis sued the city over alleged gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation, according to a court order. The jury found in favor of the firefighter on all three claims.
Dena Lewis has been a member of the fire department since 1998 and has been on administrative leave with pay since 2015. The award for Lewis included emotional harm and mental suffering, compensatory damages, loss of future earnings, time, salaries lost and counseling expenses. In addition to the jury award, the court scheduled an additional equitable relief trial to determine Lewis’s loss of pension and her attorney fees, estimated at $3 to $4 million.
California: Family HealthCare Network will pay $1.75 million to settle disability and pregnancy discrimination suit in violation of the ADA, Title VII, and Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Health Care Network allegedly used rigid leave policies and practices to deny reasonable accommodations to disabled and/or pregnant employees. The company refused to accommodate the individuals with additional leave and fired employees when they were unable to return to work at the end of their leave. In some instances, Family HealthCare discharged individuals before they had even exhausted their approved leave and failed to rehire them when they tried to return to work. In addition to the monetary settlement, Family HealthCare has agreed to retain an EEO monitor to review and revise company policies, institute appropriate employee training, and submit regular compliance reports to the EEOC.
Florida: Federal jury awards $850,000 to female farmworker claiming sexual harassment and retaliation against Favorite Farms located in Dover, Florida. The award covers compensatory and punitive damages to the farmworker.
The farmworker was sexually assaulted by her supervisor and reported it to police and management the same day. The company did not properly investigate the complaint and instead retaliated against farmworker by forcing her to take a leave of absence without pay. Although there were other complaints regarding harassment against the supervisor, Favorite Farms took no action and the supervisor continued to supervise the women in the fields.
Pennsylvania: Cato Corporation to pay $3.5 million to settle EEOC nationwide systemic investigation. The investigation found that Cato, the leading retailer of women’s fashion and accessories, denied pregnant employees and those with disabilities reasonable accommodations. The Cato Corporation also made certain employees take unpaid leaves of absence and/or terminated them because of their disabilities. In addition to the monetary settlement, Cato Corporation will need to revise its employment policies to fully consider reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees or those with disabilities.
New York: Draper Development, LLC to pay $80,000 settle sexual harassment suit. Draper Development, LLC owns and operates over a dozen Subway franchises in Albany and Schenectady area.
Former general manager, Nick Kelly sent text messages to 17-year-old girls offering jobs in exchange for sex. When the young women did not comply, they were not hired.
In addition to paying the victims, settlement requires Draper to revise their policy by prohibiting sexual harassment, conduct anti-harassment training for managers and employees, post a public notice and report all sexual harassment complaints to EEOC.
North Carolina: Harborview Senior Care Properties, Inc. to pay $21,000 to settle disability suit. Senior Care Properties, Inc., doing business as Harborview Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center operations in Morehead City denied Katrina Friend further accommodation and was placed on unpaid leave for her disability.
Friend has rheumatoid arthritis and takes prescription medicine. She has difficulty picking up or gripping objects and experienced an arthritis flare-up one month into her position. She requested a four-week light duty and the company informed her to return full duty at the end of the four-week period. Harborview later fired Friend for exceeding the company’s maximum two-week leave policy.
Georgia: Rocco’s Pub, a restaurant and bar operated by Ciorrocco’s, will pay $15,500 to settle a pregnancy discrimination suit. Rocco’s pub demoted a pregnant employee from her bartender position to a lower-paying server position allegedly due to her pregnancy.
Maryland: Maritime Autowash also known as Phase 2 Investments, Inc., will pay $300,000 in race and national origin discrimination case. Maritime segregated a class of Hispanic workers into lower-paying jobs as laborers at its former Edgewater facility.
Maritime failed to promote or provide advanced opportunities to key employee or cashier positions. Despite their tenure and outstanding job performance, the class members were only paid minimum wage, while paying non-Hispanic workers higher wages and promotions. Maritime forced the Hispanic class members to perform other personal tasks for the owner and managers, such as cleaning houses at their own home, landscaping, painting etc.
New York: Wilmington Trust Corporation to pay $700,000 to settle disability discrimination suit. Predecessor Hudson City Savings Bank had allegedly denied disability accommodations to employees.
Hudson City Savings Bank had an inflexible policy and practice of placing employees with disabilities on involuntary leave until the company received their medical provider’s clearance to return to work with no restrictions. This practice resulted in one such employee to be placed on involuntary leave and subsequently fired, even though she was able to perform the essential functions of her job with accommodation.
Louisiana: Louisiana Credit Union settles retaliation suit for $110,000. The credit union fired a Black branch manager without warning days after she walked out of a training session. Lafayette Schools Federal Credit Union, now known as Meritus Credit Union, fired Connie Fields-Meaux because she opposed a training video that was racially offensive. The video was an example of “how not to provide customer service.” The credit union clearly retaliated against the employee when she was fired days after she reported that another employee also thought it was offensive.Topics: California, EEOC, EEOC verdicts, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania