A federal jury awarded $3.2 million in a sexual harassment suit against Federal Express Corp. — including $2.5 million in punitive damages despite a $300,000 federal cap on damages. Pennsylvania case law bars awards of punitive damages under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. Plaintiff, Marion Shaub, was a former FedEx tractor-trailer driver, who claimed she was harassed by her supervisor and co-workers and that the brakes on her truck were sabotaged on five occasions in an attempt to intimidate her.
The jury found in favor of Shaub on her sexual harassment and retaliation claims and concluded that FedEx was liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Shaub was awarded $101,400 in back pay; $290,000 in front pay; $350,000 in compensatory damages for emotional suffering; and $2.5 million in punitive damages, for a total award of $3,241,400.
Although Pennsylvania case law bars awards of punitive damages under the PHRA, they are allowed under Title VII — but cannot exceed the cap. FedEx is likely appeal, to argue that the punitive damages must be reduced by $950,000. EEOC regional attorney Jacqueline McNair said the verdict “sends employers a loud and clear message that sex discrimination and retaliation are simply unacceptable.”