Illinois jury awards $95 million in sex-harassment suit
NEW YORK, June 10 |
NEW YORK, June 10 (Reuters) - A federal jury in Illinois awarded $95 million to a woman who said she was the victim of a sexual harassment campaign that culminated when her boss allegedly threw her down on a couch and masturbated on her chest.
Ashley Alford, who worked in a branch of Aaron's Inc (AAN.N) -- a nationwide chain of rent-to-own furniture stores -- should receive $15 million in compensatory damages and $80 million in punitive damages, the jury in the Southern District of Illinois concluded after three days of deliberations.
Her attorney, David Ratner, said he believes the award is the largest ever in an individual sexual harassment case. However, legal limits could reduce the award to $43 million.
Chad Strickland, vice president of associate resources for Aaron's, said the company vowed to appeal the verdict.
"Aaron's is extremely disappointed with the jury's verdict and believes that the award does not accurately reflect the evidence that was presented in this case," he said in a statement.
Strickland said that the alleged acts by store manager Richard Moore were inconsistent with "everything our Company believes in and stands for and outside the scope of Moore's employment."
Alford was 20 when she was hired in 2005 at the store in Fairview Heights, Illinois. She left in 2006 and sued Aaron's in 2008.
Moore's attorney did not immediately return a call for comment. (Reporting by Noeleen Walder; Editing by Jerry Norton and Jackie Frank)
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