by Michael Fox
Although I am beginning to sound like a broken record, it continues to be true that retaliation claims really do resonate with juries. Latest case in point comes from Western Tennessee. Although Dan Long alleged that Procter & Gamble, his employer, had made a practice of ""race discrimination against its African-American technicians" at its Pringles plant, the only claim submitted to the jury was retaliation.
Long claimed that his filing a charge of race discrimination with the EEOC was the real reason for his termination. The headline from the Jackson Sun, Ex-P&G worker wins $2.6M suit, makes it clear that the jury agreed. The breakdown -- $2 million in punitive damages, $500,000 for emotional pain and mental anguish, $29,000 for lost medical insurance with back wages and attorneys fees still to be determined.
The employer's view of the problem - timing. When an adverse employment action happens close in time to concerted activity, the "unofficial burden of persuasion" -- to show that the employer acted fairly -- which is present in every employment law case, becomes a lot heavier.