Who May Be Evaluating Your Decisions?

April 26, 2011, 3:35 PM

A recent jury verdict generated significant attention for its staggering amount: $25 million, in favor of an employee who had sued his employer. As has been reported, this verdict was so large that the judge issued an order requiring the plaintiff to accept a smaller award of $2 million or submit to a new trial.

In support of his ruling, the judge explained that the excessive award was likely the result of juror sympathy for the plaintiff, juror misunderstanding of the claims, or juror prejudice against a wealthy corporate defendant. With national unemployment at just under 10% and EEOC charges at record high levels, employers are reminded of the importance of good personnel decisions. In the event a jury is reviewing your personnel decision, they may be unreasonably sympathetic to the employee, they may misunderstand the legal implications of claims or defenses, and they may have a significant bias against corporate employers.

Consistent enforcement of well drafted company policies, supported by proper documentation, can help employers avoid juries; or, if necessary, can help persuade jurors to overcome their biases. --David J. Sullivan