Million Dollar Verdicts - Do They Ever End?
by Michael Fox
Its been a bad year, at least with the legal system, for Rent A Center. Almost a year to the day after settling a class action based on sex discrimination for $47 million, a Kansas City jury tagged on another $1.2 million in a sexual harassment case brought by Jennifer Jones, a former account manager. The Kansas City Star has the story here. Again, we see a relatively low actual damage award, $10,000 with the real hit being the $1.2 in punitive damages.
In Columbus, a jury was even more incensed with the employer, Phillips Medical Systems which discharged 56 year old Thomas Sadowski as part of a reduction in force. According to his lawyer, he was one of three in his department released, all over the age of 54. But what may well have contributed more to the award according to the AP story in the Dayton Daily News was that "he asked to be rehired after he learned the company had openings. He offered evidence that there were almost 20 engineering jobs available and that, despite a company policy of transferring laid off workers into openings, it refused to consider him when he applied for a six of them." According to the jury, that refusal was worth $1.8 in compensatory damages, $6 million in punitive damages plus attorneys fees.