Largest Sexual Harassment Lawsuits in History

| Jun 14, 2013 | Sexual Harassment |

Sexual harassment cases can result in multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements.  Here are some of the largest sexual harassment cases in history.

Weeks v. Baker & McKenzie – 1994

Jury award: $7.1 million

The allegations: A San Francisco jury awarded former Baker & McKenzie legal secretary Rena Weeks $7.1 million in punitive damages, which a judge reduced to $3.5 million.

She accused her boss, trademark attorney Martin Greenstein, of lunging at her chest, pouring M&Ms down her breast pocket, and grabbing at her hips. The trial gripped the Bay Area at the time, and many legal watchers considered the verdict a landmark victory.

Ingraham v. UBS – 2011

Jury award: $10.6 million

The allegations: Carla C. Ingraham, who was 51 in 2011, claimed her supervisor made repeated comments about her breast size, talked about how big his penis was, and asked her about sexual fantasies, Bloomberg reported.

UBS fired her when she complained about the supervisor, she claimed. UBS says it prohibits retaliation against employees who complain of harassment, Bloomberg reported.

Anucha Brown Sanders v. New York Knicks – 2007

Jury award: $11.6 million

The allegations: Anucha Browne Sanders claimed in a lawsuit that famed Knicks coach Isiah Thomas sexually harassed her over a period of two years, and that she was fired a month after she formally complained about it, the New York Times reported.

Gilbert v. Chrysler – 1999

Jury award: $21 million

The allegations: Linda Gilbert, the first woman millwright at Chrysler’s Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit, claimed co-workers harassed her with sexually explicit photos and cruel names, the AP reported.

Her award was believed to be one of the largest handed to an individual sexual harassment plaintiff. However, the Michigan Supreme Court threw it out in 2004 after finding it was “clearly the product of passion and prejudice.”

Six Female Workers v. Ralph’s Grocery Store – 2002

Jury award: $30 million

The allegations: Six female workers claimed a store manager at a Ralph’s grocery store in Escondido, Calif. terrorized them for an entire year, fondling them and throwing objects at them including a 12-pack of soda and a phone, ABC News reported.

In 2006, a state appeals court reduced the award after finding it “constitutionally excessive.”

Alford v. Aaron’s – 2011

Jury award: $95 million, which was reduced to $40 million because of a cap on federal damages.

The allegations: Ashley Alford, who worked for an Aaron’s near St. Louis, claimed the store’s general manager assaulted her after sexually harassing her for a year, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

In the fall of 2006, he allegedly snuck up behind her while she was sitting in a stock room and hit her in the head with his penis, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Chopourian v. Mercy General Hospital – 2012

Jury award: $168 million

The allegations: Physician’s assistant Ani Chopourian claimed that medical doctors at Mercy General Hospital persistently demanded sex from her, ABC News reports. One allegedly even stuck her with a needle and called her a “stupid chick.”

She looked at her supervisor and said, “Do something,” when she got harassed, ABC News reported. But her supervisor would just laugh, she said.

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Verdict -2010

Jury award: $250 million

The allegations: While this was technically a discrimination case and not a harassment case, a number of employees of Novartis Pharmaceuticals also claimed they were harassed or demeaned.

One female sales person claimed she was yelled at for leaving a long meeting to go to the bathroom, while a top-performing sales person who was a new mom was told not to apply for management jobs, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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