Ashley Alford of St. Louis was awarded what her attorneys believe is the largest payout ever in an American sexual harassment lawsuit…. $95 million. Alford claimed she was hit on the head with her boss’ genitals.
The Aaron’s Inc., a large rent-to-own furniture chain where Alford was employed was ordered to pay up after she said the store failed to act after a manager allegedly assaulted her twice in one day. “This company has always denied responsibility and continues to deny its responsibility to its workers,” Judy Cates, who originally filed Alford’s suit in 2008, told the newspaper.
Alford claimed that the store’s manager at the time, Richard Moore, gave her inappropriate nicknames and touched her inappropriately when she first began working there in 2005. And nearly a year after she was hired, he came up to her in the stock room and whacked her on the head with his penis. Then she claimed, later that day, he lifted her shirt and masturbated over her as he held her down.
Alford said she called the employee harassment hotline months before the final incident, but an investigator never got back to her.
“Aaron’s is extremely disappointed with the jury’s verdict and believes that the award does not accurately reflect the evidence that was presented in this case,” said Chad Strickland, vice president of associate resources for Aaron’s. “We feel strongly that this verdict is the result of a decision made by a classic runaway jury, and because of that we are confident that the damages will be greatly reduced. We intend to appeal the verdict and seek a fairer and more equitable outcome.”
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the award is likely to be capped because of federal law and will be closer to $40 million, plus attorney fees.
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