A court has awarded $4.4 million to a Seattle woman who worked at a Goodyear store and endured harassment—and eventual retaliation—because she is gay. Melissa Sheffield began working for Akron-based Goodyear in 1994 and worked her way up to a store manager position. She said a new manager appointed to supervise her in 2003 persistently harassed her, making it clear he did not like gays. She complained, and the manager was fired.
But at the same time, Goodyear demoted Sheffield and cut her pay, citing misconduct. When Sheffield sued for harassment and retaliation, the court sided with her.
Note: Companies often win the discrimination portion of a lawsuit only to lose big over retaliation. Courts are likely to hold it against you if any adverse actions follow on the heels of a complaint.
The multistate nature of this case also illustrates that you must understand the laws in each jurisdiction where you have employees.
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