In a recent trial court decision, Riggan Law Firm, LLC, a St. Louis employment law firm, working in connection with Kuhlmann LLC, obtained a judgment against an employer/defendant in the amount of $303,110.91. The case involved claims brought by the Firm's client, Tracey Evans, against her former employer, Anthony's Maintenance, LLC for sexual harassment and unlawful retaliation. Ms. Evans worked for Anthony's Maintenance, a St. Louis commercial cleaning company which does business under the name ACC Services, as a janitor.
In the lawsuit, Ms. Evans claimed that she was repeatedly sexually harassed and subjected to unwelcome sexual advances by her supervisor, Gary Anderson. The evidence at trial demonstrated that Ms. Evans complained to the company's owner, Craig Cox, on two separate occasions about being sexually harassed, and that Cox ultimately fired Ms. Evans for making legally protected complaints of sexual harassment. There was also additional evidence at trial about improper workplace behavior by Mr. Anderson toward other female employees that the company was aware of but failed to correct. The company had no written policy or procedure in place with respect to complaints or investigations of sexual harassment in the workplace. At the end of a two-week jury trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the Plaintiff, Tracey Evans, on her claims for sexual harassment and retaliation and awarded a total of $100,000 in damages, consisting of $50,000 in compensatory damages and $50,000 in punitive damages.
After the trial, Ms. Evans' attorneys, Riggan Law Firm, LLC and Kuhlmann LLC filed a motion with the Court to recover their attorneys' fees and costs. In its Order dated July 1, 2013, the Court granted that motion and awarded attorneys' fees in the amount of $198,640 and costs in the amount of $4,470.91. Under Missouri discrimination laws, prevailing plaintiffs are entitled to recover their attorneys' fees unless special circumstances would render such an award unjust. The Court found that no such special circumstances existed in this case, and that the Plaintiff's attorneys were entitled to recovery their fees and costs.
Further, in ruling on the Plaintiff's motion for attorneys' fees and costs, the Court stated the following:
"The Court observed Plaintiffs' attorneys over the course of this hotly contested jury trial, and finds that Plaintiffs' attorneys were outstanding in every respect, demonstrating the highest level of professional skill and competence in both knowledge of the law and procedures involved and in the trial advocacy skills required to successfully represent Plaintiff, and that the team effort by Plaintiffs' attorneys demonstrated a high degree of competence, not unnecessary duplication of effort, and that such coordinated efforts were vital to securing a just result for Plaintiff and were entirely reasonable and appropriate."
To read a copy of the Court's Order, click here.
If you believe you have been the victim of unlawful sexual harassment or retaliation at work, you should contact a St. Louis employment lawyer.