The Supreme Court of New Jersey has decided that a jury did not receive the proper instructions in order to reach the appropriate verdict in awarding punitive damages in a case. The case involved a sexual harassment suit that a female employee filed against a co-worker and her employer. The Court has said that the jury did not have the instructions that they needed in order to decide if the company named had any direct involvement in the alleged harassment.
The woman began work for the company in 2002. Five years later she reported that she had a new co-worker beginning in 2005. This male employee is alleged to have made comments that were considered to be of a harassing and threatening manner. This employee is also accused of telling the woman to be intimate with a customer. The woman has further reported that her male co-worker expressed a desire to harm a superior.
The company is reported to have fired both employees when the woman filed a complaint concerning the harassment. The jury in the first trial did decide in the woman's favor and awarded her monetary compensation for loss of employment and for any emotional harm that she may have suffered. However, the Court did not feel that the company was shown to have been a part of the harassment or harm that the victim may have endured.
This case has just been taken back to a lower court and the final outcome is unknown. However, the woman has thus far been found to have a valid complaint for sexual harassment and she has been awarded a settlement for the financial and emotional harm that she has suffered. The New Jersey court system has also done the job that is has set up to do. A retrial is sometimes ordered in cases where either there may have been a lack of proof that there was intent such as in this case. There is also an appeal process for either side to pursue in the event that it is believed that a case was wrongly decided.
Source: East Windsor, NJ Patch, "State Supreme Court Orders Retrial for Punitive Damages in Sexual Harassment Case Involving Adult Novelty Wholesaler," Anthony Bellano, July 26, 2013