MDV for the Still Employed
by Michael Fox
Most employment law cases are brought by workers who were terminated, but occasionally a current worker brings a claim that makes its way to trial. And, amazingly enough, sometimes juries are convinced that an employer, who is still good enough to work for, has acted badly enough that the employee should be compensated with a large award. That was the case in Alameda County where a jury found for Oliver Hill on his race and retaliation claims. BART worker awarded $1.27 million for on-the-job racial harassment.
Oliver, a mechanic still works for BART, although he did transfer from the Richmond facility, where the actions occurred to Concord.
Although the SF Chronicle story doesn't make it perfectly clear, it seems as though one of the acts that he alleged was harmful was a 21 month paid psychiatric leave following a complaint by a supervisor that Hill had made threats against him and the employee who Oliver claims harassed him.
If you have been thinking million dollar verdicts don't seem to be happening quite as often based on my postings of the last six months, I am afraid you are wrong. They are there, I just haven't been as faithful a reporter. Many of them are collected as potential posts, so perhaps I will do some catch-ups in summary fashion one of these days.
For me reports of MDV's are helpful reminders of what can happen in a court room. Not that it should scare employers away from trying cases that should be tried, but it does help with a sense of urgency — there are no 100% sure winners.