Recent Settlements

Firefighter Injury

An Illinois firefighter received a $400,000 workers’ compensation settlement after breaking his leg after a structure collapse.

Painter Accident

An Illinois union painter received a $1,785,000 third party settlement after being injured when he fell off a scaffold while painting the interior of a building.

Truck Driver Rollover

An Illinois truck driver received a $950,000 workers’ compensation settlement after injuring his back in an auto accident in which his truck flipped over.

Auto Accident

$875,000 for a serious leg injury to a driver involved in an intersection collision.

Personal Injury – Third Party Case

$1,800,000 Settlement for a worker who fell from a defective lift and sustained a back injury.

Retaliatory Discharge

$220,000 settlement for a hospital worker who was fired after filing for Workers’ Compensation Benefits.

Selected Sexual Harassment Jury Verdicts And Settlements

Because sexual harassment laws do not establish precise rules or guidelines for defining exactly what conduct constitutes actionable sexual harassment, such determinations must be made on a case by case basis.

To assist you in determining if you may have been or are currently the victim of sexual harassment, we have summarized several Sexual Harassment cases from various jurisdictions throughout the country, where juries have held that the conduct alleged constituted sexual harassment.

These cases, and others discussed, which were resolved by negotiated settlements, provide some insight as to the type and amount of damages awarded to victims of sexual harassment.

Sheriff’s Office Settles Sexual Harassment Case

A sexual harassment complaint against a top aide to Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary has ended with a $190,000 settlement.

Martha Passiatore, a bookkeeper who resigned in late January, received a cash payment March 5 when she agreed to end her federal sexual harassment lawsuit, according to legal papers. Passiatore accused her boss, Comptroller Brad Hurd, of sexual harassment and damaging her career for rejecting his advances.

The settlement, the largest during Beary’s six years in office and first for sexual harassment, stipulated that neither side criticize the other. The settlement is not an admission of fault. “This was in the best interests of both parties,” Sheriff’s Commander Steve Jones said. Passiatore declined comment. Her husband, Assistant Orange County Attorney Joseph L. Passiatore, was a party in the lawsuit but could not be reached.

Passiatore alleged that Hurd began to sexually harass her after she was hired in 1988 as the agency’s chief payroll officer. In 1993, the agency suspended Hurd for 40 hours after finding he made inappropriate sexual remarks to Passiatore and created a hostile work environment, according to the lawsuit and Sheriff’s records.

Hurd was on vacation and could not be reached.

Passiatore filed a second complaint in 1995, claiming Hurd retaliated by demoting her and cutting her pay by $12,000 to $36,600 a year. She claimed in legal papers that she suffered from “depression, insomnia, anxiety and stress” as a result of her treatment.

The settlement provided Passiatore $22,000 in back wages, $10,000 for loss of reputation and $158,000 to cover legal costs and medical bills. The Sheriff’s office also agreed to pay mediator costs of $2,000. In addition, Passiatore received administrative leave pay and unused vacation and sick time totaling about $4,000.

Domino’s Loses Appeal In Sexual Harassment Case

The bill for Domino’s Pizza is $237,000 plus attorney fees now that the Supreme Court has let stand a sex-harassment award won by a former pizza shop manager from Florida.

The justices, without comment, rejected an appeal in which Domino’s argued that it was wrongly held legally responsible for the harassment David Papa received from his boss, area supervisor Beth Carrier.

The nation’s highest court already is studying a case from Boca Raton in which it is expected to clarify when employers may be held responsible for the misconduct of an employee’s supervisor. But Clinton administration lawyers told the justices that Papa’s victory would not be affected by the outcome of that case.

According to lower court rulings, Papa was managing a Domino’s shop in Port Richey in 1988 when Carrier began harassing him – touching him in inappropriate ways and inviting him to live with her.

When Papa eventually threatened to report her conduct, Carrier told Papa she would “get” him. She fired him six days later.

Papa and the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Domino’s, alleging that the company had violated a federal anti-bias law that bans on-the-job sexual harassment.

A federal trial court ruled in 1995 that Domino’s could be held responsible for the hostile work environment Papa worked in. It also ruled that Papa, who had since moved to Deltona, was the target of illegal retailation and had suffered what lawyers call “quid pro quo harassment” because his rejection of Carrier’s sexual advances resulted in his firing.

The trial court awarded him $237,257.52 in back pay and ordered Domino’s to post a written sexual harassment policy in each of its shops across the nation for two years. Domino’s also was ordered to pay the lawyers fees Papa had incurred.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the trial court ruling last April.

Woman Wins $80 Million In Harassment Suit Against UPS

A jury has awarded $80.7 million to a former United Parcel Service manager who said UPS retaliated against her after she accused a driver of poking her in the breast.

The Polk County jury agreed with Linda Channon, a 22-year UPS employee, that the shipping company fostered a hostile work environment when it failed to listen to her complaints of harassment and punished her for them.

UPS was ordered to pay her $500,000 in compensatory damages and $80.2 million in punitive damages. Under a federal law that would apply to the verdict, Channon would be entitled to no more than $300,000 in punitive damages. Her lawsuit also challenges the consitutionality of that law.

Channon, 47, said she was poked in the breast by a driver under her supervision during an argument in 1993. The driver was fired but rehired, and then he began stalking Channon, said her attorney, Roxanne Conlin.

According to Conlin, “the people above her refused to provide her any protection, then started being critical of her and her efforts in a way that was simply unfair.”

Channon said UPS moved her from job to job, shunning and excluding her from meetings and giving her assignments that men were not given.

“I had different standards than the men had,” she said. “Every day I was being screamed at, being belittled, being humiliated. Those are things that are hard emotionally when you’ve worked at a place a long time and been very dedicated and done a very good job.”

She left the company on a doctor’s orders in 1996.

“Ultimately, they got her,” Conlin said. “She could no longer function in an environment that was so totally hostile to her.”

Dan Wilczek, an attorney for UPS, said the company will appeal. “We do not believe that the verdict is supported by the evidence presented during trial,” he said.

Channon, a divorced mother of three grown children, cried when the verdict was read.

“Anytime in my experience at UPS that you complain, they considered you were the problem, rather than the problem being sexual harassment,” she said.

“They expect you to be tough and handle whatever was dished out.”

Drug Firm Admits Sexual Abuse, Agrees To Record Paymout For Claims

A pharmaceutical company has agreed to pay $9.85 million to settle claims that its president and other executives pressured women employees for sex and replaced older workers with young beauties.

At least 79 women and a man who said he was punished for speaking out will share the sum, the biggest sexual harassment settlement ever obtained by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Astra AB, a Swedish company, admitted it allowed a hostile work environment — including requests for sexual favors in exchange for favorable treatment — for women at its U.S. headquarters in Westboro, Massachusetts.

“As a company we are ashamed of the unacceptable behavior that took place,” said Ivan Rowley, Astra USA’s new president.

“To each person who has been harmed and has suffered because of that behavior, I offer our apologies.”

The EEOC charged that former Astra USA president Lars Bildman and other Astra officials sexually harassed female executives.

Bildman was accused of replacing mothers and older female employees with beautiful, young, single women who were pressured into having sex. Former employees said Bildman demanded that eight hours of work be followed by eight hours of drinking and partying. Some claimed they were fondled while dancing with Bildman and said he suggested they have sex.

Women who sued Astra said after-hours sex was common and total loyalty to the company was required.

Bildman was fired in 1996, accused by Astra of spending company cash on home repairs, family vacations and high-priced prostitutes. He is being sued by Astra for $15 million to recover costs related to the EEOC investigation.

Bildman said in a statement: “I categorically deny that there was any pattern of sexual harassment at Astra.”

In addition to firing Bildman, Astra restructured its personnel department and agreed to a sexual harassment policy.

Also, the company said it took action against 30 employees and Astra customers for taking part in the harassment. Astra said it fired or otherwise disciplined the staffers and ended contracts with the offending customers — doctors, hospitals, distributors or health maintenance organizations.

Women account for 40 percent of the company’s 1,500 employees at the U.S. affiliate, which posted $400 million in sales last year.

The settlement is $8 million more than the next-highest amount obtained by the EEOC in a sexual harassment case, from Management Resources International last April.

Lelia Bush, a former Astra sales representative who brought the initial complaint to the EEOC, said women were constantly solicited for sexual favors while she was working there.

“It was unreal. It was fraternity-like. It was college-like. It was not a professional atmosphere at all,” Bush said.

Woman Awarded $2 Million In Sexual Harassment Suit

A Louisville, Kentucky woman was awarded $2 million after claiming she was forced to leave her job as a plant supervisor for Philip Morris USA because of sexual harassment.

A Jefferson Circuit Court jury, after 11 hours of deliberations, awarded Mary Wilson compensatory damages for humiliation, embarrassment and mental anguish. She had been seeking $13 million.

Wilson had been on medical leave since March 1993. She sued Philip Morris in February, 1994, alleging that she suffered through more than a year of sexual harassment by men she supervised in the Louisville plant.

Wilson’s attorney said her mental health has been badly damaged by the experience and submitted her medical records for review during jury deliberations.

Both Wilson and the company agreed that after she complained of the harassment, Philip Morris sent the three men in question to sexual-harassment counseling, after which the sexual comments stopped.

But Wilson alleged the men engaged in a retaliatory work slowdown, and when she complained to her supervisors about that, the company offered to move her to another department. She refused.

Chicago Ford Plant Pays $1.5 Million In Area Harassment Suit

Ford Motor Company has paid about $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit that charged widespread sexual harassment and racial discrimination took place at its stamping plant in south suburban Chicago Heights.

The suit, brought by eight women and one male worker, was settled earlier this month. Under the settlement agreement, neither side is permitted to discuss the terms, although a source familiar with the case confirmed the settlement amount.

The original complaint, filed on May 22, 1995, alleged that African-American and Hispanic workers suffered racial slurs from co-workers. The women also allegedly were subject to unwelcome sexual advances from supervisors and a hostile work environment.

The stamping plant has 2,000 workers, about 150 of whom are women, said Ford spokesman Jim Trainor.

Currently pending are five other sexual harassment or discrimination charges that workers have filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Ford spokesman said. The EEOC, he confirmed, is investigating these charges. Before an individual worker can sue a company for violations of employment discrimination law, he or she must have a “right to sue” letter from the EEOC that shows the agency has looked into the charges and made a determination of credibility.

No other sexual harassment suits are pending against Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford, the company said.

Jean Kamp, a lawyer at the EEOC’s Chicago office, said charges that individuals make against an employer are strictly confidential until the worker or this government files a lawsuit. She said she could not comment on the investigation regarding Ford or the possibility of expanding it to a suit representing more women workers.

Kamp is the lead trial lawyer in the government’s sexual harassment suit against Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America.

That suit, the largest sex discrimination case in U.S. history, involves 350 women at the plant in Normal.

In the Chicago Heights case, the lead plaintiff, Jeanette Jones, 54 years old, worked at Ford for 24 years, beginning in 1978.

Her charges of persistent sexual harassment include six supervisors and many co-workers.

The $90,000 Kiss: Law Firm Settles Sexual Harassment With New Jersey College

Lawyers representing Tina Mears, a 25 year old student, announced that a settlement has been reached with Cumberland County College in New Jersey for $90,000 in a case where Mears claimed that the college was responsible for the actions of a professor — John Reinard — who forced a kiss on her after a political rally in 1995.

According to the lawsuit, Mears claimed to be the victim of sexual harassment. In the lawsuit, Mears brought a claim against the college under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a federal law which prohibits discrimination of the basis of gender, including sexual harassment, in educational programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. The law permits students to file against educational institutions which receive federal funds.

Mears’ civil lawsuit against Cumberland County College and Reinard followed a criminal complaint that Mears had also filed immediately following the kissing incident. The Woodbury Municipal Court found Reinard guilty of harassment. Reinard is appealing his conviction.

In describing the settlement, Mears’ lawyer stated that “the College avoided a potentially costly and embarrassing trial, during which we would have revisited all the allegations concerning Reinard. That would have reflected badly on the College and would have also compounded the emotional stress that Tina Mears has already suffered.”

He noted that an added benefit of a case like this was that it would hopefully serve to deter future incidents of sexual harassment in schools and colleges.

Recent Significant Workers’ Compensation Decisions

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