by Michael Fox
Just down the road in the Bexar County Courthouse, a San Antonio jury on Friday returned a $5 million sexual harassment verdict against its own city owned power company, CPS Energy. Not a lot of details, but with a $2 million award against the company and a $3 million award against the alleged harasser, it is clear that the jury was less than happy with either of their conduct.
Yolanda Oliverri who worked as a meter reader for 23 years alleged that she had been subject to "unwelcome sexual advances, including comments and touching. ... [which]began in October 2000 and continued through February 2003, when she was transferred to another department." According to the story, even though other employees corroborated her story, the utility found her allegations were unsubstantiated.
That highlights one of the toughest parts of any workplace investigation -- the credibility assessment. Getting it wrong, or at least wrong as the jury ultimately sees it, which may be what happened here, can be an expensive proposition.
It was a 3 week trial, followed no doubt by a much longer appeal.