Jury Awards Underberg & Kessler Client $7 Million for Workplace Harassment

10.02.2018

A jury awarded Underberg & Kessler client, Pamela S. Small, $7 million against the State of New York, NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, and three individual defendants for psychological and financial damages resulting from a co-worker’s harassment and misconduct while Ms. Small was employed as a teacher at the Attica Correctional Facility.

Jennifer Shoemaker, an Underberg & Kessler partner, was retained by Ms. Small nearly seven years ago, after she was subjected to a hostile work environment, including obsessive stalking and harassment for two years at the hands of her co-worker, Carl Cuer. While Ms. Small reported Mr. Cuer’s misconduct to her superiors on several occasions, the jury found that the state Department of Corrections employees did not follow proper reporting protocols or provide a safe working environment for Ms. Small during the time in question. “At any point over the last six years, the State of New York and DOCCS could have done the right thing and put an end to years of needless litigation,” Shoemaker said. “Ms. Small not only suffered because of the actions of her harasser and DOCCS, but also because the case dragged on for so many years, further victimizing her.”

The jury awarded Ms. Small $2.17 million in financial damages, $2.4 million for violation of her civil rights, and $1.7 million for Cuer’s misconduct. “This jury sent a clear warning to employers,” Shoemaker said. “This behavior and inaction will not be tolerated any longer. Employers need to take allegations of harassment seriously, promptly investigate, and remedy any wrongdoing.”