Sexual Harassment is Still Around

Kegler Brown E-mployment Alert

Anita Hill is a distant memory, but sexual harassment continues to be an active area of litigation, even outside the halls of Congress.

Last month, the largest jury verdict for a sole plaintiff in U.S. history was awarded in a sexual harassment and wrongful termination case. The case involved a physician’s assistant in California who was fired after working for two years at a hospital. She was discharged after making numerous complaints about sexual harassment and patient safety problems.

The case reads like a textbook harassment training course. The jury found that the employee was subjected to sexual advances, improper touching, and vulgar remarks on an ongoing basis from the doctors. She was fired a week after making her last complaint, on the basis that she was not a “team player.”

The jury awarded167.7 million dollars to the employee, $125 million of which was punitive damages. The case is Chopourian v. Catholic Healthcare West(U.S. Dist. Ct., Eastern Dist. Calif.) (Source: Lawyers USA Practice Alert; 3/12/12).

One of the lessons is that you need to continue vigilance over your work environment, and also revisit your sexual harassment education and training programs.