A jury in a New York federal court awarded $1 million to a woman who sued her former employer for sexual harassment, hostile work environment, and other claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. The judge reduced the amount of punitive damages and awarded the plaintiff attorney’s fees and costs, making the final judgment amount just over $720,000. Ganci v. U.S. Limousine Service Ltd., et al., No. 2:10-cv-03027, judgment (E.D.N.Y., Apr. 8, 2015). The lawsuit named both the employer and the plaintiff’s supervisor as defendants, and the final judgment held them jointly and severally liable for the plaintiff’s compensatory damages.
The defendant operated a limousine service business. According to her complaint, filed on July 1, 2010, the plaintiff worked for the defendant as a dispatcher. For a period of about one year, she stated that her supervisor repeatedly called her, sent text messages, and left voicemails “at all hours of the day and night…convey[ing] disgusting, sexually suggestive, erotic and vile messages of a sexual nature.” Ganci, complaint at 3. She rejected the supervisor’s advances, but he reportedly indicated that rejecting him could put her job “in jeopardy.” Id. at 4. She also stated that he made unwanted physical contact with her at work. She was unwilling to report this conduct to anyone in the office because she feared losing her job, and also because the supervisor’s wife worked in the same office.
The supervisor’s actions, the plaintiff stated, caused so much distress that she had to be hospitalized for anxiety. While she was in the hospital, she stated that the supervisor called her and made additional sexual remarks, despite knowing that she was there because of stress. On February 21, 2009, according to the plaintiff’s complaint, the supervisor pushed her into the bathroom and attempted to assault her. She was able to leave the office, and she stated that the supervisor fired her the next day. He reportedly continued sending her text messages for several weeks, including one stating that she was fired for “refus[ing] to have sex with the General Manager.” Id. at 7.
The plaintiff’s lawsuit alleged sexual harassment in violation of Title VII. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a), 29 C.F.R. § 1604.11. She also alleged hostile work environment and retaliation under Title VII, and common-law claims for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The case went to trial, and in September 2014 the jury ruled in the plaintiff’s favor on most of her claims. It found for her on the sexual harassment claim and found that she had been constructively discharged. It did not find in her favor on the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim.
The jury awarded the plaintiff $450,000 in compensatory damages against both defendants, $100,000 in punitive damages against the supervisor, and $450,000 in punitive damages against the employer. The court later set aside the punitive damages award against the supervisor and reduced the award against the employer to $100,000. It awarded the plaintiff attorney’s fees and costs, for a total judgment amount of $720,646.66.
The employment discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates advocate for the rights of New York City employees and job seekers in sexual harassment claims and other employment law matters. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a knowledgeable and skilled employee advocate, contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431.
More Blog Posts:
New York City Administrative Law Judge Recommends $37,000 for Former Employee in Sexual Harassment Claim, New York Employment Attorney Blog, April 30, 2015
New Harvard University Policy Demonstrates a Different Side of Sexual Harassment Law, New York Employment Attorney Blog, April 8, 2015
Police Detective’s Lawsuit Asserts Sexual Harassment, Retaliation Claims Under State Law, New York Employment Attorney Blog, March 18, 2015