Jury Awards $328k Verdict Against FedEx for Sexual Harassment
The Punitive Damages Phase of the Trial is set to begin on January 31, 2005
San Jose, Calif.– January 28, 2005 — A Santa Clara County, California jury has awarded more than $300k in compensatory damages in a sexual harassment suit filed against Federal Express Corp. on behalf of two female employees. In addition, the jury also found that the conduct of FedEx warranted the basis for a punitive damages award, the amount of which will be decided on Monday, January 31, 2005.
During the first phase of the trial compensatory damages were awarded to Kolainia Hettick and Jana Bryant after the jury determined a variety of findings including: sexual harassment, failure to take reasonable steps to prevent and correct discrimination and intentional infliction of emotional stress.
In addition, the jury also awarded a finding of constructive discharge after Ms. Hettick determined that working conditions were so bad that she felt she had to quit.
Kolainia Hettick had been working as a “Handler” in the document sort area from November 1999 until January 2003. During the first phase of the trial she was awarded compensatory damages of $298k. Her coworker, Jana Bryant, was awarded $30k. The women claimed that they were sexually harassed by a co-employee and that they reported it to FedEx management who did not take appropriate steps to protect the employees from the harasser. The harassment consisted of stalking-type behavior, intimidating the employees in the workplace based upon his obsessive crush on Hettick and his feeling that Bryant was convincing Hettick not respond to his persistent attempts to get her to go out with him.
Both plaintiffs claim that there had been many complaints to management about this unwelcome conduct and that management failed to act appropriately to protect the employees and discipline the harasser. Bryant and Hettick alleged that FedEx failed to properly train its employees on the issues of sexual harassment and failed to take adequate steps to investigate the employees’ complaints and take prompt protective action required under the law.
In the punitive damages phase of the trial the jury is going to be asked to decide the appropriate measure of monetary damages necessary to punish FedEx and deter this type of conduct from occurring again.
The suit was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by Winer, Burritt & Tillis LLP and was tried by John Winer from the firm’s Oakland offices. Other pending race discrimination cases against FedEx’s Sunnyvale station and other Bay Area stations are being litigated by Winer, Burritt & Tillis LLP.
The second phase of the trial (to determine punitive damages) is scheduled to take place on Monday, January 31, 2005 at Santa Clara County Superior Court, 191 North First Street, San Jose, CA. The trial begins at 9:00 a.m. before Judge Baines. This phase should take less than one day and the jury may begin deliberating as early as that afternoon.
About John D. Winer
John D. Winer is recognized as one of the leading attorneys in the State of California at trying cases, especially cases involving psychological trauma. He has received the California Trial Lawyers Association Recognition of Experience Certificate as an experienced trial lawyer. He has been featured in many newspaper articles and TV and radio news shows. Mr. Winer has obtained many significant trial results including verdicts such as Rahn v. Lowinger , which resulted in a $7.1 million dollar verdict; Walker v. Parzen (together with co-counsel Marvin E. Lewis) which resulted in a $4.5 million dollar verdict; and Curtis v. Dizmang in which a jury awarded $1.5 million dollars.
The result in the cases above were based on the facts of the particular case, and results will differ if based on different facts. No guarantee, warranty or prediction is being made regarding any particular case or injury.
No inference is intended regarding the dollar amount of any Confidential Settlement listed above. The identity of defendants and locations of cases in the results listed above have often been changed to comply with confidentiality provisions. The facts, general nature of the cases, and the description of the work done by Winer, Burritt & Tillis LLP, remains accurate, as does the amount of the settlements.