In most cases, when a claim of employment discrimination is settled, the related disputes are also resolved. That is, after all, the purpose of settlement – resolving a dispute and discontinuing the current proceedings. This is true whether the case settles at the trial level or the administrative level. In many cases, the EEOC or a state-level equivalent is able to mediate the discrimination claim and help the parties reach a mutually agreeable settlement, bringing the case to a close. For one woman, however, settlement was just the beginning.
Sex Harassment Claim Settled by Administrative Agency
Dawn Munday, a truck driver in Maryland, was employed at Waste Management of Maryland's Elkridge station. She was the only female truck driver at the Elkridge station. She claimed to have been subjected to harassing remarks, including rumors regarding her sexual conduct. She says she was also required to enter the men's locker room/bathroom in order to get the truck keys and her work assignments. She was called derogatory names and subjected to obscene gestures. Her internal complaints of harassment were ignored. She endured this harassment for six years.
She complained about the harassment to the Human Rights Commission in her county. The administrative agency subsequently found "reasonable cause" to believe she was a victim of discrimination. Munday's claims were eventually settled two years later, and she remained employed at Waste Management.
Violations of the Settlement Agreement
After the initial administrative claim was settled, Munday believed her workplace issues were over. "I thought we had come to an agreement as adults, and it was over with," said Munday. "From the moment I returned to work, I was discriminated against. I was harassed." She claims she was paid less than her male counterparts and her benefits were restored not, as required by the settlement agreement. Her supervisors hassled her about whether she intended to file a lawsuit against the company. They also told her co-workers not to talk to her, but to spy on her instead.
Lawsuit for Retaliation and Continued Harassment
Although Munday had settled her sexual harassment claims against her employer at the administrative level, her employer breached the agreement by retaliating against her when she returned to work. As a result, Munday filed a lawsuit against her employer, seeking $3 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages.
Jury Awards Harassed Employee $13 Million in Back Pay and Damages
Proving sexual harassment requires evidence of more than just one instance of name-calling or obscene gestures; instead, to file a successful claim, an employee is required to show that they have been "subjected to unwelcome conduct that creates a hostile environment based on [their] sex that is sufficiently severe and pervasive to alter the terms and conditions of [her] employment." In Munday's case, the jury agreed with her claims and awarded her $13 million – $12.5 million of which was for punitive damages.
If you are a victim of workplace discrimination, speaking with a Birmingham employment attorney is the first step to seeking fair treatment. Contact our legal team at Michel | King Michel & Kingto start your case with an initial case review!