In a Tennessee sexual harassment retaliation case the Tennessee Law Blog has been following for greater than a year, a federal jury has awarded Nashville woman $1.5M in a retaliation lawsuit case. Vicky Crawford, a former employee of Nashville schools, claimed she suffered wrongful termination after she cooperated in a workplace sexual harassment investigation at Metro Schools.
(For previous Tennessee Law Blogs on this case, see our “Harrassment Retaliation Lawsuit from Nashville…” and, for an earlier report, “TN Sexual Harassment Suit before Supreme Court Expected to Expand Retaliation Protections for All Workers”).
After working over 30 years with Metro Schools, Crawford was fired from her Payroll Coordinator position in 2003. Subsequently, she suffered lost wages, future lost wages, and pension benefits, for which she filed her TN employment lawsuit. Originally, her case was dismissed by a federal judge since Crawford, herself, was not the subject of the sexual harassment investigation.
Then, in January 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for Crawford that sexual harassment retaliation protections extended to her for testifying in a sexual harassment investigation when she told investigators about sexual advances her coworker made, which are detailed in previous Tennessee Law Blogs. No action was taken against this male supervisor for these allegations. The same day the sexual harassment investigator’s report was filed, allegations were made by Metro Nashville that it was concerned about Crawford’s payroll department. In addition to Crawford’s termination, two other female employees who testified were fired.
The $1.5M award was for compensatory damages, back pay and future lost wages.
Since termination, Crawford has been unable to get a job, according her attorney. She has lost her house and is without a car. An article in The Tennessean that quoted Metro employees implying she was guilty of embezzlement, an allegation that remains unsubstantiated, impacted Crawford’s ability to obtain another job.
Now, after this long journey from a Nashville lawsuit to the Supreme Court, it appears Crawford has had her day in court. Her case serves as a warning to Nashville, TN employers and those across the nation that retaliatory firings for speaking out against sexual harassment will not go unanswered.