Register Star ordered to pay $223,045.82 for sexual harassment

Register Star ordered to pay $223,045.82 for sexual harassment

By Shellie Berg

By Shellie Berg

Staff Reporter

On May 2, a federal jury ruled in favor of plaintiff Lisa D. Miller, demanding the defendant, the Rockford Register Star, pay damages totaling $223,045.82 for sexual harassment.

The complaint of sexual harassment was filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.

Rene Hernandez, Miller’s attorney, asked for a minimum of $100,000 for Miller’s suffering; for back pay; and for punishment of the newspaper. “We got everything that we asked for,” Hernandez said. He believes the case is the largest sexual harassment case ever in Rockford.

It was filed because Miller was harassed numerous times by her supervisor, Glenn Lamb. “He made rude and offensive remarks on a daily basis,” Hernandez stated. “He did touch the plaintiff on various occasions.”

He said the Rockford Register Star knew or should have known about the situation but failed to thwart it.

Hence, the jury ordered the newspaper to pay Miller $100,000 for emotional pain and suffering and $100,000 in punitive damages with $23,045.82 in back pay for being constructively discharged, Hernandez said.

“We’re obviously very disappointed in the verdict,” Publisher Fritz Jacobi said. Jacobi hasn’t decided whether to appeal the decision but indicated he would probably decide in the next month after reviewing the court’s findings.

“She resigned her position and was offered a chance to come back, after the offending person had been discharged,” Jacobi said.

Hernandez said Miller didn’t resign. “They tried saying that, but the jury didn’t buy it,” he stated. “They did indeed find that she was constructively discharged.” He also noted that the newspaper failed to fire or ask Lamb to resign.

Hernandez said that according to Title VII, an employee can’t be constructively discharged because of discriminatory acts. It’s unlawful to discriminate against sex, race, nationality, origin, color or religious preference.

“This would be quantified under sex—female,” he said. “The key word is ‘discrimination.’ The Rockford Register Star had their opportunity to wrap this case up a long time ago. They chose not to.”

Miller added that she filed the lawsuit in 1998, and the newspaper could have settled it then. Nevertheless, she is pleased with the action taken.

“I honestly feel that it’s not only a huge win for myself,” she said. “It’s a huge win for women everywhere. This is something that should not be going on in the workplace. If this [case] will help one woman, I will be ecstatic.”

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!