A Chattanooga woman has won a judgment of over $2 million in a sexual harassment complaint filed against a Kingsport, Tn., funeral home.
Andrea Herring was represented by Chattanooga attorneys Donna Mikel and Doug Hamill. The case was filed in Chattanooga, but was heard in GreenevillIe.
The jury awarded Ms. Herring $300,000 in compensatory damages related to sexual harassment by an employee of East Lawn Funeral Home, which is owned by SCI.
The panel then returned a judgment of $1,750,000 for punitive damages.
The lawsuit said while Ms. Herring was employed as a family services counselor at the funeral home, she was sexually harassed by the funeral director, Tim Stinnett.
It says Stinnett, who is still employed by SCI at Sherwood Funeral Home in Alcoa, Tn., exposed Ms. Herring and other female employees to sexual jokes, sexual comments, invitations for sex, and inappropriate touching.
The suit says Ms. Herring was changing clothes in the employee bathroom when Stinnett procured a key and opened the door to watch her change. It says she was terrified and humiliated.
She reported it through the chain of command, but SCI did not respond appropriately, according to the complaint. Instead, it labeled Stinnett’s behavior as “juvenile” and did not discipline him at all, it was stated.
The HR department at SCI never interviewed him and never placed any document concerning it in Stinnett’s personnel file, the jury was told.
Ms. Herring put her complaints in writing to SCI and finally filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after she was retaliated against and terminated, it was stated.
The trial began Tuesday to an 8-person jury in front of United States District Court Judge Ronnie Greer.
Attorney Mikel said it is one of the largest single-plaintiff employment law verdicts in this district.
She said she and attorney Hamill "were both thrilled that the jury determined it was time for SCI to take serious its obligations under the law to protect employees from sexual harassment."