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December 19, 2014

An award of back pay plus $200,000 in compensatory damages, plus interest, sustained as reasonably related to the wrongdoing and comparable to other awards for similar injuries

An award of back pay plus $200,000 in compensatory damages, plus interest, sustained as reasonably related to the wrongdoing and comparable to other awards for similar injuries
State Div. of Human Rights v Steve's Pier One, Inc., 2014 NY Slip Op 08445, Appellate Division, Second Department

In a ruling dated October 12, 2011, the Commissioner of the New York State Division of Human Rights adopted the recommendation and findings of an administrative law judge.

The administrative law judge found that the complainant was subjected to a hostile work environment because of his gender and was constructively discharged from his employment because of his gender. 

The complainant's employer, Steve's Pier One, Inc., [and others] and their respective owner, Joseph Genova, individually, were found liable for the sexual harassment. The Commissioner awarded the complainant damages in the principal sums of $3,248, plus interest at the rate of 9% per year from June 30, 2001, for back pay, and $200,000, plus interest at the rate of 9% per year from October 11, 2011, in compensatory damages for mental anguish and humiliation.

The Appellate Division sustained the Commissioner's determination and award, holding that the Commissioner's ruling was supported by substantial evidence on the record considered as a whole.

The court also held that substantial evidence also supported the Commissioner's determination that Genova, as the owner and general manager of the restaurant where the complainant was employed at the time, is individually liable for the discrimination, explaining that the amendment of the complaint to add Genova as an individual respondent after the statute of limitations had expired was not unreasonable or unfair, inasmuch as the claims against him "related back" to those asserted in the original complaint against his restaurant.

As to the award of compensatory damages in the amount of $200,000, plus interest, the Appellate Division ruled that the award was reasonably related to the wrongdoing, was supported by substantial evidence, and was comparable to other awards for similar injuries. Likewise, the court said that substantial evidence supported the Commissioner's award of back pay with interest and was appropriate.


The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2014/2014_08445.htm



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