Jury Verdict Reminds Employers in New York and Across the U.S. to Protect Temporary Workers from Unlawful Harassment

file00073412185 morguefile username ronnieb.jpgA jury has issued a $1.5 million award in favor of several temporary workers who suffered sexual harassment and retaliation in a Tennessee workplace. In Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. New Breed Logistics, three women assigned to work in one of five Memphis New Breed Logistics warehouses were reportedly subjected to unwanted physical and verbal sexual harassment by a male supervisor. After the women complained about the man’s workplace behavior, they were terminated. In addition, a male worker was also apparently fired after he agreed to serve as a witness on behalf of the harassment victims during an internal investigation into the supervisor’s purported behavior. After unsuccessfully attempting to settle the matter voluntarily, the EEOC filed a lawsuit on behalf of the workers in the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee in late 2010.

Following a seven-day jury trial that concluded in May, the North Carolina-based company was ordered to pay the former employees about $177,000 in back pay, $486,000 in compensatory damages and $850,000 in punitive damages. In general, punitive damages are normally issued in an effort to punish egregious workplace and other behavior. In addition, the EEOC asked the federal court to issue an injunction against future discrimination including retaliation and sexual harassment at New Breed Logistics.

In August, New Breed Logistics filed a motion for a new trial and sought a judgment as a matter of law. The company based its request on the allegedly flawed jury instructions and insufficient evidence provided at trial. According to the Memphis court, New Breed Logistics acquiesced to the jury instructions issued at trial. In addition, the court held that the jury was provided with sufficient evidence to support its verdict. Still, the jury issued an award to one of the terminated workers that exceeded the statutory damages cap included in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Because of this, the federal court granted in part New Breed Logistic’s motion for a judgment as a matter of law and reduced the jury’s verdict to comply with the provisions of the Act.

This case is especially noteworthy because it reminds employers in New York and throughout the United States that all workers, including temporary employees, have a right to enjoy a workplace that is free from unlawful discrimination and harassment.

The skilled attorneys at Phillips & Associates have many years of experience representing the victims of sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination in New York City and surrounding areas. At Phillips & Associates, our caring lawyers are available to help you protect your rights at the municipal, state, and national levels. To schedule a free, confidential consultation with a capable advocate, please give our knowledgeable attorneys a call today at (212) 248-7431 or contact Phillips & Associates through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Supreme Court Weighs Whether to Hear Pregnancy Discrimination Case that Could Affect Workers’ Rights in New York and Nationwide, New York Employment Attorney Blog, November 19, 2013

Additional Resources:

Jury Awards More Than $1.5 Million in EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Suit against New Breed Logistics, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Press Release dated May 10, 2013

Photo credit: ronnieb, morgueFile

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