Runaway Jury's $3m Award Cut to $10k

by on January 6, 2011 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

It’s axiomatic: Juries sympathize with plaintiffs in employment lawsuits. But how much? Look at a well-publicized case in New York.

Early this year, a federal jury awarded a hotel cook $3 million for retaliation. After he complained of national origin bias, he claimed, his employer decided to keep an eye on him and installed a secret camera at his work station, where it stayed for eight days until co-workers found it. The verdict was splashed all over the press, TV and the Internet.

But now a judge has slashed the damages award, saying the jury set it “irrationally” and “shockingly” high. The right amount, the judge said, was just $10,300, including $300 for violating the state’s secret surveillance law. Not quite $3 million!

Takeaway for HR: Don’t let employment disputes end up in front of a runaway jury. Take employee complaints seriously, investigate, and act on your findings.

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