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Jury Awards $1 Million for California Sexual Harassment Victim

June 4, 2019 Legal Team

A Los Angeles jury awarded over $1 million in damages to a former Merle Norman Cosmetics employee for finding that the company retaliated against her after she reported its two top officers for sexual harassment allegedly making sexually offensive remarks to her and a co-worker.

The victim, Stephanie Kelley, said that she initially felt comfortable at the cosmetic firm but things changed when her supervisor, Jack Nethercutt, started making sexually offensive remarks to her and a co-worker. Nethercutt inappropriately commented to Kelley about the attire of Sarah Tillman, her co-worker, stating Tillman should do more to show off her breasts. Kelley alleged Nethercutt repeatedly told her that she had a “hard body” that made her look like “one of those USC cheerleaders.” At one point, when Kelley suggested a name for a lipstick color, he responded, “How about ‘Pop Your Cherry’”? When Ms. Kelley complained to human resources and asked the DFEH to begin a sexual harassment investigation, her supervisor “took his hostility to a new level.”

The Los Angeles Superior Court panel awarded Kelley $1,055,236 on her claims of retaliation and failure to prevent retaliation and harassment against Merle Norman. The jury’s award included $293,410 for past lost income and benefits, $401,826 for future lost income and medical expenses, and $360,000 for pain and suffering.