According to Forbes, a St. Louis federal jury awarded what may be a record breaking verdict to a single plaintiff who alleged quid pro quo sexual harassment. The jury awarded $95 million in damages to a former Aaron’s Inc. associated for sexual harassment, $15 million in compensatory and $80 million in punitive damages.
The plaintiff said that an Aaron’s store manager made suggestive comments, touched her inappropriately and sexually assaulted her. The female employee complained to management about quid pro quo sexual harassment and called an Aaron’s complaint hotline, but the company took no action. The manager was arrested after an alleged sexual assault on the plaintiff and the criminal case is still pending. The plaintiff alleged that quid pro quo sexual harassment took place for nearly a year and then the manager escalated his behavior by assaulting the victim. In another incident, the plaintiff alleged that the manager had hit her on the head with his penis.
Aaron’s said the company is extremely disappointed by the verdict, even though the actual award will be capped at about $45 million. Los Angeles employment lawyer advises that punitive damages were determined by the court to be allowable on counts alleging common law assault, retaliation and common law battery.