It did not take long for the federal jury to determine damages in the sexual harassment case between a former executive of the New York Knicks and Madison Square Garden, including coach Isiah Thomas. The jury came back with a verdict of $11.6 million for Anucha Browne Sanders that covers compensatory and punitive damages from Madison Square Garden, former employer of Ms. Sanders.
Coach Isiah Thomas received a brief reprieve in the sense that the jury did not require him to pay any of the damages. The jury earlier found him guilty of sexual harassment in the earlier phase of the trial. The former employer, Madison Square Garden was ordered to pay the sexual harassment victim, y $6 million for subjecting Ms. Sanders to a hostile work environment and another $2.6 million for firing her in retaliation. Mr. James L. Dolan, Madison Square Garden Chairman and CEO of Parent Company,Cablevison. The jury ordered that Mr. Dolan pay $3 million for the retaliation. In his testimony, Mr. Dolan said that he alone made the decision to fire Ms. Sanders.
The Cablevision stock took a hit on Monday, when the verdict of the punitive damages came down. The stock is currently trading at $34.61, which is down from the $35.06 it was trading at on Monday before the punitive damages were awarded by the jury.
However, Ms. Sanders is not guaranteed that she will receive the $10 million in compensatory damages her legal team is asking for. According to a Newsday article, Garden City attorney Jim Ryan, who specializes in sexual harassment litigation, "There is a pretty good chance that this kind of case gets settled." Fortunately for Ms. Sanders, U.S. District Court Judge Gerard Lynch has the final say regarding compensatory damages. Over the next few weeks, he will determine if Ms.Sanders is entitled to more than $10 million in compensatory damages, which includes $600,000 in back pay and $9.6 million for projected pay, damaged reputation and lost benefits. Time will tell, who will win the next round. Stay tuned...
This large jury verdict in the Madison Square garden case sends an important message to companies about sexual harassment claims. A victim should not be ignored by a company or made to feel guilty about coming forward to report claims to management. Management should take the necessary steps in making an investigation and handling the victim with professionalism and dignity. If not, there could huge fines and fees awarded by a jury that could cost the company possibly millions of dollars.
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