Friday, January 30, 2009

$300,000 in damages for sexual harassment case

It's always worth knowing what a civil rights case is worth, but since jury awards don't get reported in the books, the only way to know is through court decisions that pass judgment on them, usually when the losing party tries to reduce the amount. Today we have a better sense of what a reverse sexual harassment is worth.

The case is Singleton v. City of New York, decided on January 30. This summary order does not have precedential value, but that's no excuse not to read it. The plaintiff was a corrections officer. His supervisor, a woman, pursued him sexually. He rebuffed her advances, and she retaliated against him. As the Court of Appeals describes the case, "Walker made repeated sexual advances towards Singleton at work, threatened Singleton when he spurned those advances, and called and sent a letter to Singleton’s then-girlfriend—the mother of Singleton’s child—alleging in graphic terms that Singleton had been unfaithful. Singleton and his girlfriend thereafter broke up, and he became depressed at work." Singleton won the trial, and the jury awarded $1 million in pain and suffering. The trial court reduce that amount to $300,000. The City appealed, arguing that even $300,000 is too high.

The Court of Appeals says that $300,000 does not "deviate[] materially from what would be reasonable compensation" under New York law. Unfortunately, the decision does not provide any additional details about Singleton's pain and suffering, and the district court decision, published at 496 F. Supp. 2d 390 (S.D.N.Y. 2007) doesn't either.

No comments: