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Discrimination And Harassment in Employment Law


In the case of Roby v. McKesson HBOC, an employee suffered from a panic disorder which caused a number of unmistakable side effects. After lengthy employment, she was terminated for taking too many days off. She alleged her supervisor treated her poorly and even recommended that she take more showers. A lawsuit was brought based on wrongful termination and the jury awarded $4 million in compensatory damages, including $600,000 against the supervisor and $500,000 against the employer for the harassment, and more than $15 million in punitive damages. Since there was no evidence to support it, a Court of Appeals vacated the harassment award and lowered the punitive damage award to $2 million.

Some states distinguish between discrimination and harassment and the issue of whether the same evidence can overlap to prove both charges has come up in courts across the country. The plaintiff's attorney in the case at hand advocated that an examination of all the circumstances in a case is necessary rather than a broad categorization of evidence of either discrimination or harassment. In some instances, the same evidence clearly proves both charges and categorizing it as discrimination or harassment would be wrong. The attorney representing the business in this case is seeking to maintain the status quo; prohibiting the overlap of evidence to prove both charges. The attorney maintains that allowing the evidence will result in lowering the bar, making it easier to obtain judgements for harassment. A judgement is expected in the coming weeks.

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