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Verdict in sexual harassment case upheld in appeals court

Missouri residents may be interested to learn that a federal appeals court recently upheld a $1.5 million verdict in a sexual harassment case. The lower court jury verdict had been reached after the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against a North Carolina-based company on behalf of four employees.

The EEOC claim alleged that a supervisor at New Breed Logistics harassed three female temporary employees while they were working at a Memphis warehouse. When the workers objected to the discriminatory treatment, the same supervisor retaliated against them. The supervisor was also accused of retaliating against a male worker at the warehouse after the male worker verbally objected to the supervisor's treatment of the three women.

After a jury awarded the plaintiffs $1,513,094 in damages in 2013, the case was appealed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. After reviewing the case, the appeals court found that the jury was correct to find that the supervisor at New Breed Logistics was guilty of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A spokesperson for the EEOC said that he was pleased that the appeals court had recognized the importance of the 'opposition of conduct" clause in Title VII.

Sexual harassment in the workplace can negatively impact both the workers who are being harassed and other workers who witness the inappropriate behavior. Under Title VII, workers who verbally oppose sexual harassment are protected from retaliation. A worker who has been demoted, passed over for a promotion or fired after opposing sexual harassment by a supervisor may want to talk to a lawyer about the remedies that may be available.

Source: The National Law Review, "Appeals Court Affirms Jury Verdict of Over $1.5 Million in EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit Against New Breed Logistics," April 25, 2015

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