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Employment based sexual harassment verdict could impact Missouri

Sexual harassment at the workplace is an illegal act in Missouri. Employers can be held responsible for sexual harassment or related consequences that happen when the employee is at work. An employer was recently held responsible for the sexual harassment an employee endured in 2009.

Although the incident did not occur in Missouri, the facts of the lawsuit have the potential to occur in Missouri. The plaintiff in the sexual harassment lawsuit claimed she was sexually harassed at work by a colleague. The plaintiff claimed she reported the harassment, and as a result of her report of the sexual harassment she became the victim of retaliation. The plaintiff claimed she was retaliated against through written reprimands and suspensions from work.

The jury results of the lawsuit were split. The jury agreed the plaintiff was sexually harassed at her place of work. The jury made this conclusion in a 9-3 vote, wherein the jury found the plaintiff was harassed to a point that interfered with her work performance.

The jury did not conclude the plaintiff incurred retaliation or the plaintiff was touched by a colleague in a sexual manner. As a result of the jury verdicts, the plaintiff received compensatory damages that equaled $60,000. The compensatory damages were awarded to compensate the plaintiff for emotional and mental distress that resulted from the sexual harassment. It was reported that the plaintiff may have received damages in excess of $1 million if the jury would have found for the plaintiff on all of the plaintiff's claims.

Source: Kentucky.com, "Jury awards Fayette jail employee $60,000 in civil lawsuit," Jennifer Hewlett, March 15, 2012

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