A New York jury has awarded $1.25 million in damages to a former Columbia University professor for retaliation taken against her after she claimed a senior professor sexually harassed her.
According to Kelley Drye’s LaborDays:
Interestingly, the jury found that there was no sexual harassment or gender discrimination. The verdict was on the retaliation claims. The jury also did not give the plaintiff the back pay and front pay she had sought. They awarded only punitive damages, against both defendants.
Kelley Drye outlines the key messages this ruling sends to employers, including:
- “All companies and institutions need to be on notice that behavior that could be perceived as ‘harassing’ or ‘bullying’.”
- Employees should use caution with email and text messages.
- Employers should “empower their bystanders”.
- Ensure an investigation takes place whenever a complaint is made.
- “Individual executives need to remember that New York State and City law (like many other local laws) allows for individual liability if you are found to have engaged in harassment, discrimination, or retaliation.”
- Take retaliation claims seriously.
Employers should take note that the verdict was focused on the retaliation claims, and that businesses should ensure management and staff are properly trained on both harassment and retaliation.
For more details, please click here.
For more information on New York’s Harassment Policy & Training Compliance, please click here.