Jury Awards Millions to Six Women Against Ralphs

Apr 08, 2002

A jury has awarded $30.6 million to six women who alleged they were subject to violent behavior and sexual harassment by a store director at Ralphs Grocery Co., reports the Associated Press. The plaintiffs were awarded $5 million each in punitive damages and a total of $550,000 for pain and suffering, says Philip Kay, a San Francisco lawyer who represented the women.

The women, who worked for Ralphs in the 1990s, claimed store director Roger Misiolek touched them inappropriately, abused them verbally and threw phones, shopping carts and 40-pound mailbags at them. When they complained to company officials, he was transferred to another store.

In 1998, another jury awarded the plaintiffs $3.3 million in punitive damages. But a judge set aside the award after she learned a juror improperly researched Ralphs’ net worth from documents outside the court and then shared the information with other jurors.

“Women who work in this type of position need to be protected,” Kay says.
“This will send a message to companies that they must not tolerate this kind
of action any further.”

Moderator Comment: Is sexual harassment a major issue
in retailing and, if so, what needs to be done about it?

You have to wonder how an employee of any company could
have committed the acts attributed to Mr. Misiolek and not been fired. If the
store director really did these things than Ralphs (Kroger) does not have a
moral (we’ll leave the legal to the lawyers) leg to stand on. That’s if, he
really did any of the horrible acts he’s been accused of. [George
Anderson – Moderator

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