LOS ANGELES (CN) – A Los Angeles jury returned a sex harassment verdict against Playboy Entertainment Group, awarding a former broadcast technician $182,500 against Playboy and $10,000 in punitive damage against a co-worker who called the female plaintiff a “fat pig” and a “slut.”
The jurors returned their verdict late Wednesday, deciding that Playboy and co-worker Charles Dorn sexually harassed plaintiff Julie Crouch. The jurors also found that Playboy was responsible for not preventing the harassment.
All of the jurors agreed that co-worker Dorn should be hit with punitive damages and concluded that he must pay $10,000 for his abuse.
“We all sort of felt that Dorn harassed her,” one of the jurors said afterwards.
The juror also said Playboy’s former Human Resources Manager Brenda Villa did not fulfill her duty as a human resources representative to stop Dorn’s sexual harassment.
“She was obligated to act,” said the juror. Another jury member said that all the jurors felt like Villa didn’t conclude the sexual harassment investigation thoroughly and correctly.
“They (Playboy’s Human Resources) gotta do their job,” she said. “The company should take care of things.”
Some of the jurors mentioned that it was hard for them to agree on some of the questions in the verdict form because they could only go back 12 months from the date Crouch’s employment was terminated.
I felt that Dorn continued to harass her throughout her employment, one of the jury member said.
Another jury member also thought the defense’s witnesses were not telling the truth. “It just seemed like they were closed up because they were still working with [supervisor] Chere Johnson,” she said.
Throughout a one week long trial, Crouch’s lawyer Mark Joseph Valencia argued that Dorn had been sexually harassing her, calling her a “slut,” “bitch,” “fucking fat pig” and making other vulgar comments toward her. Valencia called in Crouch’s former co-workers and supervisors to testify that Dorn had not only been calling her names but also throwing pens at her like darts or sliding a condom on her desk and suggest her to come over to his house.
Defendants’ lawyers Barbara Fitzgerald and Jason Mills with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius argued that there was some kind of relationship between Crouch and Dorn. One of their witnesses, Joe Hicks who was Crouch’s former supervisor at Playboy said, “I thought there was a relationship with each other … I observed massages and stuff like that … I didn’t see any kind of hostility between the two.”
After the verdict was rendered by the jury, plaintiff lawyer Valencia said the verdict against Playboy is a big step forward.
“We got a sexual harassment and failure to prevent harassment against Playboy,” he said after the verdict. “It indicates that they had sexual harassment and failed to prevent sexual harassment,” Valencia said. “That’s fairly massive.”
Playboy’s lawyers Barbara Fitzgerald and Jason Mills with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius declined to comment.