A verdict of $1.5 million was awarded recently in a sexual harassment case brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against employer New Breed Logistics, a North Carolina-based logistics services provider. The verdict was rendered on behalf of four employees. It included awards of $177,094 in back pay and $486,000 in compensatory damages, as well as $850,000 in punitive damages. Puntive damages are awarded to punish a company whose conduct is found to be malicious or wilfull.
In the suit, the former employees alleged that New Breed Logistics subjected three female employees to sexual harassment and retaliation for opposing the harassment. The jury found that a warehouse supervisor harassed three workers by subjecting them to unwelcome sexual touching and lewd, obscene and vulgar sexual remarks at a local warehouse facility in Memphis. The jury found that the supervisor fired the three workers for complaining about the harassment. In addition, the supervisor retaliated against another employee by terminating him for opposing the harassment and agreeing to serve as a witness during an investigation by the company.
The case was brought under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it illegal. Title VII is the federal law equivalent to California's Fair Employment and Housing Act, which provides similar but somewhat broader protection to employees who have been victimized by unlawful harassment, retaliation or discrimination.
The Rutten Law Firm, APC, 2013 SuperLawyers - Employee Rights