Employment Trial Report

Trial by Fire: Employment litigation verdicts, tips and strategies

Before “#MeToo” became a movement, it was a well-known, damaging type of evidence to employers litigating discrimination claims.  “Me too” in the employment litigation context refers to evidence that employees other than the plaintiff also were also discriminated against. Employers had traditionally sought, with mixed results, to exclude such evidence as improper character evidence under FRE 404(b) or as substantially more prejudicial than probative under FRE 403.  Debate raged over admissibility. In 2008, the U.S.…
A sweeping amendment to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) bars enforcement of non-disclosure provisions in settlement agreements and employment contracts, and prohibits the waiver of substantive and procedural rights under the statute. The amendment applies to all contracts and agreements entered into, renewed, modified, or amended on or after the effective date, March 18, 2019. Highlights The amendment has the practical effect of prohibiting typical confidentiality provisions that accompany settlements of LAD claims.…
The evidence is in, the jury instructions are done, final trial motions have been made (and appeal points dutifully preserved), and it is time for the final argument, the holy grail of the trial lawyer. After months (if not years) of preparation, it is finally time to just argue, to tell the jurors what you think about the evidence and convince them to agree with your view of what is just and proper, right? Wrong.…
Employers have little control over employees’ bad, impulsive decisions. However, employers have full control over how they respond to a complaint of harassment. Any employer can ensure it investigates an allegation of harassment. Failure to do so can be costly. On December 19, 2018, a Florida federal jury rendered a verdict awarding $850,000 in compensatory and punitive damages to Elulalia Salazar-Santiago, a female worker working at Favorite Farms. The evidence at trial showed that Santiago…
Plaintiffs Megan Meadowcroft and Amanda Brown, two winery employees, alleged that they had been harassed on numerous occasions by their supervisor, General Manager Pinero. Specifically, Brown alleged that Pinero attempted to flirt with her, and physically made contact with her. Meadowcroft alleged that Pinero made sexually explicit gestures, sexually explicit comments, put his hands on her waist and under her buttocks as she was serving customers, and on at least one occasion told her that…
  Following a five-day trial, and nine hours of deliberation, a federal jury in Pennsylvania has awarded more than $6 million to a former Teva Pharmaceuticals employee. Middlebrooks v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., No. 2:17-cv-00412 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 19, 2018). The employee claimed that the company discriminated against him on the basis of his age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and on the basis of his national origin in violation…
A federal jury concluded that the former Superintendent of the East Greenbush Central School District failed meet her burden of proving she was terminated based on her gender and pregnancy status. Accordingly, the District was not liable for the more than $4 million in damages sought. Angela Nagle became Superintendent of the District in 2008. Nagle and the District amended her employment agreement several times, and the last amendment provided that she was to remain…
A federal jury recently awarded a female scientist $3 million for her gender discrimination claims against PPG Industries, Inc., headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Half of the award was for emotional distress damages. In the case, Carol Knox worked for PPG for 23 years and was a Project Manager in the research and development group, where she was the only female, at the time of her termination in 2013. Knox brought suit in 2015 alleging gender…
A jury recently returned a $310,500 verdict in favor of a former University of South Florida employee on her retaliation claim against the University. DeBose v. USF Board of Trustees, et al, No. 8:15-cv-02787 (M.D. Fla. Sept. 26, 2018).   The former employee, Angela DeBose, claimed she was retaliated against because she had filed internal race bias complaints with the University and a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charge of discrimination. DeBose was hired by the…
A federal jury has awarded a female professor lost earnings and punitive damages on two counts of employment retaliation, despite rejecting her claim of sex discrimination in a university’s distribution of coveted teaching assignments. Baugh v. Robert Morris University, No. 2016-cv-430 (W.D. Pa. Sept. 11, 2018). Jeanne Baugh, a computer programming professor at Robert Morris University (RMU), filed a lawsuit against RMU in the Western District of Pennsylvania in 2016 alleging sex discrimination, retaliation, and…