May v. Chrysler Group, LLC,

Federal 7th Circuit Court
Civil Court
Case Number: 
Nos. 11-3000 & 11-3109 Cons.
Decision Date: 
May 14, 2013
Federal District: 
N.D. Ill., W. Div.
In Title VII and section 1981 action alleging that defendant-employer failed to take reasonable steps to stop racist, xenophobic, homophobic and anti-Semitic harassment and death threats targeted at plaintiff-employee by unknown co-worker(s), Dist. Ct. did not err in denying defendant’s Rule 50 motion for judgment as matter of law seeking to reverse jury verdict in favor of plaintiff on liability issue. Record contained sufficient evidence to show that defendant failed to take reasonable steps to protect plaintiff from harassment where plaintiff produced evidence of over 70 incidents of harassment in three year period, and where, although defendant initially conducted two meetings and hired hand-writing expert in unsuccessful effort to monitor situation and to identify culprit(s), defendant took no other steps (such as interviewing 19 suspects identified by plaintiff) to curb harassment during remaining two-year period. Moreover, Dist. Ct. did not err in vacating jury’s $3.5 million punitive damage award since defendant’s actions, in employing several strategies to prevent harassment, did not evince reckless disregard to plaintiff’s rights. (Ct. of Appeals had originally reversed Dist. Ct.’s vacatur of punitive damages award.)