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Harassing restaurateur braces for court’s damages award

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

A high-profile sexual harassment case that went all the way to the Min­­ne­­sota Supreme Court will now proceed to the penalty phase with no opposition from the defendant.

The owner of Lou’s Fish House in Two Harbors has agreed to let a judge determine the awards to three former employees who sued him under the state’s sexual harassment and discrimination statute.

In a statement his lawyer presented to the court, the owner agreed to pay $25,000 in punitive damages to each of the three plaintiffs. But that figure is just the tip of the iceberg.

The lead plaintiff in the case seeks another $332,751 in compensatory and punitive damages, court costs and attorneys’ fees. The other two plaintiffs are seeking $53,480 and $49,240 in compensatory damages. Punitive damages and attorneys’ fees could easily balloon each of those sums into six figures.

Advice: Even small employers need anti-harassment policies that really work. Employees must have an avenue to lodge complaints and have them quickly and professionally investigated. Courts will examine company policies when determining whether employee complaints can go to trial. Good policies stop litigation and save money.

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