Workplace Discrimination Costs Montana County One Million in Damages

A federal jury awarded close to one million dollars in damages to three sheriff's officers after finding their commanders discriminated against them and retaliated against the trio when they voiced complaints. The verdict came after four plus days of testimony in U.S. District Court.
According to the Billings Gazette, one deputy was awarded $348,333; while a second deputy and a civil transport officer were each awarded $298,333.
The jury determined a sheriff and two captains discriminated against the three officers, although not because they are Hispanic. The jury also found the three commanders retaliated against the officers for their involvement in human rights complaints and grievances.
The officers filed their lawsuit after one officer filed a state human rights complaint and the other two men agreed to come forward with witness statements on his behalf. The officers' claim commanders reacted harshly and tried to crush any dissent from them and others. They claim they have had to deal with retaliation and harassment since their complaint was filed.)
The verdict broke down this way:
1.        The three officers were harmed as a result of the discrimination and retaliation and were each awarded $100,000 in damages.
2.        The jury also found two commanders attempted to dissuade the officers from exercising their free speech rights, and the actions were a practice and custom of the Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office. As a result, each officer was awarded $150,000.
3.        The jury said the violations of the officers' free speech rights were committed by the defendants and imposed punitive damages of $100,000against one defendant; $30,000 in damages against a second defendant; and $15,000 in damages against the third
Each officer will be awarded an equal share of the total $145,000 in punitive damages, or about $48,000 each.
4.        The jury found the Sheriff's Office breached its duty by failing to adhere to the state Human Rights Act and failed to remedy any employment problems. As a result of that failure, one officer in the trio was awarded another $50,000 in compensation. (WCxKit)
Attorneys for the three men indicated Yellowstone County will also be responsible for paying attorney fees, thus pushing the final cost of the lawsuit to the county to well past $1 million.
It is not known whether the three commanders will be personally responsible for the punitive damages handed down against them or if the county will pay.
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. Contact: 
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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
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