PDA

View Full Version : Can a sexual harrassment claim be worth $35 mil?



Aussie Willy
08-02-2010, 06:18 AM
A claim in Australia is being lodged against a large department store chain because the Managing Director, who has since resigned, sexually harrassed an employee. And there have also been other claims that he harrassed female employees.

However is it really worth $35 million?

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/david-jones-faces-35m-kristy-faser-kirk-sex-harrassment-case/story-e6frf7l6-1225900025525

Bostonfan
08-02-2010, 03:46 PM
Is it worth that much? There's insufficient information. I don't know what the labor laws are like in Austrailia, but where I live a Company is held liable for a manager's actions even if they didn't know about it. I would be curious to know:

1) Does the Company have a clear policy on prevention of harassment in the workplace and directions on how and to whom to file a claim. Do they train their management team periodically on this subject?

2) if she ever reported the harassment and if so, was their an internal investigation?

3) Was there any tangible job detriment beyond the emotional stress that she suffered? Failure to get a promotion, lack of a pay increase, unwarranted poor performance evaluation, a change in job duties or shift that is less desirable?

If the answers to 1 and 2 are "no" and/or the answer to 3 is "yes", then you bet it's worth 35 million. Companies that don't take this issue seriously and fail to follow through on claims deserve multi-million dollar lawsuits.

taf2002
08-02-2010, 06:19 PM
Gee, I wish the sex discrimination laws had been in effect in the 70's when I was being harassed. I could have retired at age 23.

Nan
08-02-2010, 08:04 PM
When I was in my early 20's, a store owner told me that he would promote me to buyer, but when we traveled to shows I'd be sleeping with him.

If it happened now, it would be worth a fortune.

numbers123
08-02-2010, 08:12 PM
if he harress several other female (or for that fact male) employees over the years and no one had reported it to the HR department? Are more than one former employee going to benefit from the case? Or did the number filed so high in order to get a settlement for less out of court?

My first gut reaction is no the the large amount....but I would need more information on why the number was chosen and what the company knew and.

genevieve
08-02-2010, 08:21 PM
I thought from the amount that it would be a class-action suit, but that's not the case. The plaintiff is suing the individual who (allegedly) harrassed her for $2 Mil, and the company for $35 mil in punitive damages.


If she wins, it would be the first time punitive damages would be awarded for sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace.
^ This makes me think the amount is so high 1) because it's potentially a landmark case and 2) because they expact the award, if granted, to be way lower.

The plaintiff does say that she would give any punitive damages to charity.

What isn't made clear in the article is whether the company had a sexual harrassment policy, and whether the plaintiff used that policy. It mentions that she tried to rebuff the unwelcome advances, but doesn't say if she reported the guy to any higher ups.

Aussie Willy
08-02-2010, 11:43 PM
Sexual harrassment is basically a big no no in Australia and major companies like this one do have policies in place. She did complain to management about his behaviour.

I heard this morning that the amount she is suing for is a percentage of the company profits which apparently is a standard practise.

There is probably no question about her being was harrassed. However is it really worth $35 mil.

uyeahu
08-03-2010, 12:05 AM
If she reported it and nothing or very little was done, or she was punished more than the harasser in some way (demoted, transferred, fired, etc.) that would make the punitive award fair and a deterrent to future bad behavior by the company.

Prancer
08-03-2010, 01:45 AM
There is probably no question about her being was harrassed. However is it really worth $35 mil.

Punitive damages aren't rewards to compensate a victims's suffering; punitive damages are punishments for the defendants, usually only awarded in cases where the defendant has engaged in particularly negligent or reprehensible behavior.

The question isn't whether the plaintiff "earned" that much money through her suffering, but whether the company "earned" that kind of penalty for the way it handled her complaints.

Aussie Willy
08-03-2010, 02:59 AM
Punitive damages aren't rewards to compensate a victims's suffering; punitive damages are punishments for the defendants, usually only awarded in cases where the defendant has engaged in particularly negligent or reprehensible behavior.

The question isn't whether the plaintiff "earned" that much money through her suffering, but whether the company "earned" that kind of penalty for the way it handled her complaints.
Thanks for the explanation.

Bostonfan
08-03-2010, 04:08 AM
The question isn't whether the plaintiff "earned" that much money through her suffering, but whether the company "earned" that kind of penalty for the way it handled her complaints.

Exactly. There's no incentive for a Company to take seriously the job of investigating workplace harassment unless they are forced to pay so much money for their lack of action that they want to huddle in a fetal position and cry. The case will likely settle for a lot less. But this will put a scare into every company that don't take proper action. All they needed to do was a thorough investigation. Even if they couldn't find evidence to support her claims, the proof of a thorough investigation would have diminished their liability substantially.