By William Schertz, Crain staff (TB)
Fayetteville, North Carolina -- A Cumberland County jury has ordered Goodyear to pay $450,000 in compensatory damages to a woman who sued the tyre maker for wrongful termination.
Lashanda Shaw, who was hired by Goodyear's Fayetteville plant as an area manager in September 2007, was awarded the amount April 1 following a five-week trial in Cumberland County Civil Superior Court after jurors found that the tyre maker was negligent in inflicting severe and disabling emotional distress upon her. Ms. Shaw sought more than $1.5 million, but jurors voted not to award punitive damages.
According to court documents, the jury determined that Ms. Shaw, who had filed several complaints of harassment with both Goodyear and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, was fired as a means of retaliation. Ms. Shaw alleged that despite her complaints about harassment from a supervisor, no actions were taken by Goodyear to correct the problem.
However, the jury determined that Goodyear did not intentionally discriminate against the plaintiff because of her race or sex and that Goodyear would have fired her in the absence of these complaints.
Ms. Shaw was represented at trial by Harvey Kennedy and Harold Kennedy III of the law firm Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy & Kennedy L.L.P.
â€œAs a result of the jury's verdict, hopefully Goodyear will enforce its zero tolerance policy in the future and ensure that all complaints by employees of harassment, discrimination and retaliation are investigated promptly, fairly and thoroughly,â€ said Harvey Kennedy. â€œThe lesson from this verdict is that Goodyear needs to make major changes at its Fayetteville plant to eradicate race and sex discrimination, harassment and retaliation.â€
Goodyear said it will ask the judge in the case to throw out the verdict and consider an appeal.
â€œGoodyear is pleased that the jury agreed that the company lawfully terminated Lashanda Shaw and was not held liable for unlawfully discriminating or retaliating against her,â€ GoodÂ¬year said in a prepared statement. â€œThe company respectfully disagrees with the verdict and damage award in Ms. Shaw's favor on one of her claims of negligence.â€
Mr. Kennedy alleged that Goodyear also had retaliated against other Fayetteville employees who appeared as witnesses in the case.
â€œWe brought in a lot of other witnesses to testify that they made complaints of harassment and discrimination to the HR department and none of their complaints were investigated either,â€ he said. â€œThere seemed to be a pattern of not investigating, and then the employees testified they were retaliated against after they came forward and made their complaints.â€
A spokeswoman for Goodyear said she could not substantiate these claims and added that Ms. Shaw's firing was due to poor performance.
From Tire Business (A Crain publication)