Sure, HR pros know that there’s a significant difference between a pat on the shoulder and a slap on the butt — but for this company, the difference was $168 million.
A former hospital worker in California was recently awarded the largest sum ever to an individual in a sexual harassment suit.
How did her ex-employer achieve this dubious distinction?
The former employee said that co-workers slapped her on the butt and pulled her into their laps, against her will.
When she complained to HR, she was fired.
The hospital and its owner, Catholic Healthcare West, were hit with a $125 million bill for damages.
The jury tacked on $42.7 million for lost wages and mental anguish.
“I just wanted to take care of my patients. I loved my job,” she said.
She tolerated unwanted advances, innuendos and touching — including butt slaps — for two years, before telling supervisors (who often witnessed the behavior). “They would laugh,” she said.
Next, she documented the behavior and mailed a complaint of the alleged abuse to the HR department.
The hospital worker was fired a week later.
She said it was because she was a whistleblower; the employer said it was due to misconduct, because she failed to report to work one day.
She agreed she was on call on the day in question, but no one ever contacted her.