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Trying case in court of public opinion can backfire

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Employers that leak information re­­lated to employee lawsuits can wind up doing more harm than good if the publicity prompts a jury to jack up awarded damages.

Recent case: When Officer Therese Lore settled an overtime dispute based on sex discrimination, she was supposed to be assigned overtime on par with male police officers. While picking up her check from a stack of paystubs, she noticed that other officers had more overtime than she did. She copied the stubs and used them as evidence that her employer breached its agreement.

Somehow, a newspaper wound up learning Lore had copied the stubs and was suspended for 10 days. She sued, arguing that the resulting article hurt her reputation.

Her lawsuit netted her $250,000 for pain and suffering, including harm to reputation. (Lore v. City of Syracuse, et al., No. 09-3772, 2nd Cir., 2012)

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