Two female employees were experienced laborers for a water and sewer contractor. Their employer assigned them undesirable jobs, withheld safety equipment necessary to do their jobs, denied them basic hygiene needs and exposed them to unsafe work conditions. The female employees’ similarly situated male co-workers were not subjected to the same work conditions.
The female employees’ disparate treatment was not accidental; their supervisor made comments that they were receiving different and unfavorable treatment because they were women. When the employees complained about their work conditions and the harrassment they were experiencing, they were laid off and never returned to work.
The female employees sought Bakke Norman’s assistance to bring claims against the employer for gender discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation and constructive discharge. The employees sought compensation, but also punitive damages, damages designed to punish the wrongdoer.
The employees’ claims were tried over three days before a jury in the federal court for the Western District of Wisconsin. The jury found in the employees’ favor on all claims. The plaintiffs were awarded a combined total of $750,000 for compensatory and punitive damages.