A recent case that resulted in a $3.5 million verdict caught my eye. And not just because the verdict is pretty big, considering the case was brought by a single plaintiff who alleged her supervisor harassed her by asking her on dates and asking whether she “had a man.”
The jury came back with more than just the verdict. They also came back with an “addendum” that instructed the employer to provide across the board training for all managers. This procedural move is unheard of – juries tend to do what they are asked to, and then to skedaddle and get back to their lives. But this particular jury apparently felt so strongly about the employer’s lack of training that it mandated it. The case is Jean-Baptiste v. District of Columbia, and the actual jury verdict form can be found by clicking here.
What’s the lesson?
Make sure all managers are trained on harassment prevention, for starters. Also, take a broader look at your policies and procedures. Are they fair? Do employees who avail themselves of your policies walk away feeling respected? The plaintiff in this case obviously did not; if she had, there would not have been a lawsuit.