When the high school football coach at St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School in Vallejo, California learned that some of his players were hazing underclassmen, he reported it to his superiors. He said the boys were exposing themselves to the new players and forcing them to touch their genitalia.
The high school investigated and expelled five students. It also fired the coach who reported the hazing. He sued the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento for retaliation. The case went to a jury, which ordered compensatory damages of $900,000. The jury was deliberating on punitive damages when attorneys announced they had settled for $4 million.
The case highlights the risk of retaliating against employees who report (or voice complaints about) harassment or discrimination.
Note: The employer may have settled for more than it should have, but once a case goes to a jury anything can happen. Clearly, the employer would have been better off preventing the litigation.
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