Two Former Employees of Edison Receive over $460 Million in Damages Following a Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit.
An Los Angeles jury has awarded $440 million in punitive damages to two former employees who claimed that they were forced out of their employment at Southern California Edison (SCE) subsequent to complaints made regarding recurrent racial and sexual harassment at the South Bay office, reported Los Angeles Times.
According to the article in the LA Times, the above verdict resulted subsequent to the jurors’ decision to award $24.6 million as compensatory damages to A. Martinez and J. Page on Wednesday.
Thus, D. deRubertis, an attorney who represented the plaintiffs, stated that the combined verdict is over $464.6 million in damages.
After 16 years of tenure at Edison, Martinez claimed that he was forced out of his employment in April 2017.
He further alleged that Edison had created or allowed unendurable working conditions to force an employee out of a job because of reporting prevalent usage of racist language and sexual harassment.
According to evidence presented by the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Edison’s South Bay office culture appeared similar to a fraternity where sexual and racial harassment was rampant and at times concealed such actions.
The jury awarded punitive damages of $400 million to Martinez, consisting of $300 million from Edison International (parent company) and $100 million from SCE.
Further, $40 million in punitive damages was awarded to Page, another plaintiff, consisting of $30 million from the parent company and $10 million from SCE.
The award of $22.37 million for Martinez is considered one of the largest compensatory damages resulting from a Fair Employment and Housing Act Lawsuit in California. However, according to the SCE spokeswoman, the company intends to challenge the verdict and appeal for a new trial.
Attorneys for Martinez claimed that 6 retaliatory complaints were received against him within 30 days after reporting the harassment. Attorneys further contended that the company had conducted a fake investigation and used those complaints to force him out of employment.
According to the court documents, Page claimed he was subjected to reprisal and threats after his anonymous report of harassment. He further stated that he was also forced out of employment as the threats followed to his new location upon transfer.
Although the company acknowledged in court filings that these two employees had reported supervisors’ inappropriate sexual conduct towards female employees, the company alleged that Martinez had violated SCE policies by falsifying the time records of a subordinate.
Moreover, the company stated in the trial that although Page had reported the harassment of female employees, he had not disclosed himself as being a victim until later.
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