Last Laugh? Not for NY Taxpayers
January 31, 2012 3 Comments
Remember this 2/15/11 story in The New York Post: “My Boss’s Voice Made Me Vomit!”
New York Housing Authority Superintendent Anthony Dingles sued the New York City Housing Authority and his boss, Demetrice Gadson. Dingles alleged Gadson began a campaign of constant verbal attack after he complained to higher ups about her poor management techniques. As a result, he said he literally became sick when heard her voice. He said the stress forced him to get medication for his stomach and intestinal system, inflamed his bleeding prostrate and he was so beaten down emotionally that he began therapy.
The New York Post’s web blog subsequently carried mocking comments: “He’s obviously not married, or he’d be used to it,” and “Where are the Sopranos when you need them?” The Post gave the incident its annual Golden Stapler “As the Stomach Turns” award.
First the good news (at least for victims of workplace abuse).
After a nine day trial, a federal jury in New York concluded in December that Gadson violated the Dingles civil rights by filing frivolous disciplinary charges against him in retaliation for complaints that were protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Now the not so good news (at least for Dingles).
The jury awarded Dingles “nominal” damages of $1.
BUT from an employer’s perspective even that small amount is a disaster because it entitles the attorneys who represented Dingles, Bennitta Joseph and Alexander Coleman, to attorney fees from the city. Such fees could reach up to $450,000. And this doesn’t take into account what the city paid to defend Gadson, as well as all of the lost work time, absenteeism, increased health costs, etc.
Of course, the taxpayers of New York City ultimately will pay the bill. (The New York Senate passed a workplace anti-bully bill in 2010 but it subsequently died in the House.)
Meanwhile, Dingles, who still works for the housing authority, succeeded in protecting his job and no longer is supervised by Gadson. Which is not a bad result for Dingles.