Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Thursday, October 14, 2004

MDV - $1.8 Million Dollar Verdict for Former HR Director


The story in the Contra Costa Times sums it up, $1.8 million award at bias trial. Marietta Harvey, Filipina and for five years a Director of HR for Sybase was terminated in February 2003 and then denied two lower level jobs that she claims went to less qualified white males. What might have angered the jury, evidence that CEO John Chen reportedly repeated another executive's comment that "the human resources department had too many Asian American employees and looked like an airport." Also probably not likely to make friends, testimony by the CFO that the "company planned to respond to the verdict by laying off employees to maintain the company's cash assets."

The understatement of the year, a S.F. attorney quoted commenting on the verdict, ""That's the sign of an angry jury." No kidding.

Update: Although more often than not a jury verdict doesn't successfully make it through the appeals stage, this one has, at least through the first stage. According to an East Bay Business Times story, Appeal Court affirms $1.8M verdict against Sybase, the intermediate appellate court even restored $500,000 in punitive damages that the trial court had taken away. The appellate court opinion can be found here.

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