One does not necessarily need to be a direct target of California workplace sexual harassment or racial discrimination to file a legal claim for damages. Retaliation against bystanders for brining such offenses to light can have a devastating impact on one’s career. Employers have been known to respond to bystander reports of harassment and discrimination by giving whistleblowers less desirable shifts or duties, shutting them out from key professional opportunities/accounts/clients, or outright firing them.
Fortunately, as our Riverside sexual harassment attorneys can explain, there are legal remedies for those who speak out to protect those most vulnerable in the workforce. One such case recently ended with a $460 million damage award to two plaintiffs in Los Angeles who alleged they were forced out of their jobs at the local electricity company after blowing the whistle on rampant sexual harassment and tolerance of racial epithets.
The Los Angeles Times reported the damage award included $440 million in punitive damages alone. Plaintiff attorney’s had only asked the court for a quarter of that amount. That’s on top of tens of millions in compensatory damages paid. Punitive damages, for those who may not know, are paid to penalize the defendant for especially egregious conduct. Compensatory damages, meanwhile, are intended to cover a plaintiff’s actual losses (loss of wages, loss of benefits, loss of career advancement opportunities, emotional distress, etc.).
The company, which plans to appeal, acknowledged that the two reported that supervisors were engaging in sexually inappropriate conduct toward female employees. Plaintiffs alleged that the company had fostered a fraternity-like culture, where sexual harassment and racial harassment were not only the norm, but actively protected. Reported incidents were allegedly disregarded. Continue Reading ›