$2.4 Million Sexual Harassment Award Upheld on Appeal
A jury in Simi Valley initially awarded James Stevens $18.4 million in compensatory and punitive damages in a sexual harassment lawsuit in October 2006. But the presiding judge later reduced the damages to $2.4 million. The award was appealed and the California Second District Court of Appeal upheld a jury’s reduced $2.4 million award plus $750,000 in attorney fees to Stevens in the sexual harassment case against the Vons supermarket chain.
Stevens worked for the supermarket chain for 25 years, including 15 years as an inventory clerk, where he proved that a female manager sexually harassed him on numerous occasions. Stevens complained to the company about the sexual harassment, but instead of taking action against the management employee, Vons fired him, which resulted in Stevens filing the sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. Stevens was represented by high-profile attorney Gloria Allred.
Stevens testified he was subjected to daily sexual harassment by the manager. In addition to making sexual remarks, she once simulated sex with a feather duster.
Stevens was represented by Gloria Allred at trial and on appeal by appellate specialist Donna Bader of Laguna Beach. Attorneys for Vons did not comment on the decision. According to the Ventura County Star Allred said “We are very happy that the court of appeal upheld a multimillion dollar award against Vons for sexual harassment and retaliation,” said Allred. “And we hope that Vons and other employers will learn an important lesson from this case, which is that all of their employees must be protected from sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace. And that employees such as Mr. Stevens, who are deprived of their rights, will fight back and win.”