On Friday, a federal jury returned a verdict of more than $1 million to three women who alleged they were racially and sexually harassed by a female administrator at Alabama State University. The jury found that the school had allowed an administrator to create a racially and sexually hostile work environment and that the women were then retaliated against after they filed complaints.
The jury found that the female administrator, who was African-American like the three plaintiffs, created a racially hostile environment for all three women. She was accused of regularly using the N-word and called one of the plaintiffs who is biracial a “white bitch.”
The jury also found for the plaintiffs on their sexual harassment claims. The administrator was accused of making inappropriate comments about one of the plaintiff’s body and clothes, suggesting she undress to show how many tattoos she had and inappropriately brushing her body against the plaintiff in a filing room.
This verdict is a not so subtle reminder that Alabama juries will not tolerate this type of behavior in the workplace. Companies run a significant risk by not agressively investigating and addressing complaints of hostile work environments.