Texas: Employer to Pay $499,000 for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

By SHRM Online Staff Nov 21, 2014
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A jury awarded almost half a million dollars to three former employees in a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against EmCare, a provider of physician services.

The jury awarded former Executive Assistant Gloria Stokes $250,000 in punitive damages based on the claim that she was sexually harassed by her supervisor, division Chief Executive Officer Jim McKinney.

The EEOC also sought relief for two other EmCare employees, Bonnie Shaw and Luke Trahan, based on retaliatory discharge. The jury awarded Shaw and Trahan $82,000 and $167,000, respectively, to compensate them for lost wages and benefits as a result of having been fired for reporting and opposing a sexually hostile work environment within the AnesthesiaCare Division of EmCare.

The jury verdict followed five days of trial, including the presentation of evidence by the EEOC about McKinney’s constant lewd sexual comments and behavior, as well as several other management-level employees. Stokes, Shaw and Trahan all testified about the lack of an appropriate response by HR to their complaints about the misconduct. Shaw and Trahan testified about jointly reporting to HR that McKinney made an inappropriate remark to Shaw's then-15-year-old daughter at a "Bring Your Child to Work Day" event. Shaw and Trahan were both fired, within an hour of each other, just six weeks later for reasons the company alleged were performance issues.

The EEOC filed suit against EmCare after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.
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