A jury rendered what may be the largest sexual harassment verdict in history last week in Illinois — a $95,000,000 award to the plaintiff, Ashley Alford. The loser in the case was Aaron’s Inc., a rent-to-own retailer. Ms. Alford alleged that her manager made suggestive comments, touched her inappropriately and sexually assaulted her. She reported this conduct to her supervisor. She even called the company’s HR hotline to complain as well. The company took no action.
Matters reached a head (no pun intended) when the manager came up to her, removed his genitals from his pants and then hit her top of the head with his penis. A month later, he pushed her down onto a sofa, lifted up her shirt and masturbated on top of her. Criminal charges against the manager are pending.
Not surprisingly, the employer is appealing this record-setting verdict. Chad Strickland, the company’s VP of human resources, said that “Aaron’s is extremely disappointed with the jury’s verdict and believes that the award does not accurately reflect the evidence that was presented in this case. We feel strongly that this verdict is the result of a decision made by a classic runaway jury, and because of that we are confident that the damages will be greatly reduced.”
The facts of this case are extreme. No person should have to be subjected to this type of treatment at work, or anywhere else, for that matter. By not acting promptly to terminate this manager, who was obviously a sexual predator, Aaron’s violated the law and now will be remembered in infamy as being on the losing end of a world record-setting verdict.