Fourth Circuit Reverses Lower Court’s Rejection of Retaliation Jury Verdict in Favor of The Employment Law Group® Client

Posted on February 7, 2013

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently reversed the decision of a federal district court that had rejected a $61,000 retaliation verdict on behalf of The Employment Law Group, P.C. client, Shana Maron.  The Fourth Circuit held that the trial court erred when it rejected the jury’s verdict and entered judgment in favor of Ms. Maron’s former employer – Virginia Polytechnic Inst. & State University – and reinstated the jury’s verdict.

During her trial, Ms. Maron claimed that upon seeking a promotion to a higher salary position, her male supervisor suggested that she would not be eligible for the same salary received by the male worker she was to replace.  The supervisor allegedly told Maron that the other worker earned a higher salary, stating that he was “was the head of his household and had mouths to feed”.

Additionally, Ms. Maron testified that her manager had also told her that hiring someone “young, newly married” and in “[her] child-bearing years” would be a “liability” as she may eventually have to take maternity leave.  After Maron complained about these comments, her supervisors took responded by retaliating against her, which led her to seek employment elsewhere.

At the conclusion of her trial, the jury awarded Maron $61,000 for her Title VII retaliation claim.  However, U.S. District Court Judge James C. Turk set aside the jury’s verdict and entered judgment for Virginia Tech.

During Maron’s appeal, Virginia Tech argued that she had only suffered “petty slights”.  The Fourth Circuit, however disagreed and reversed the district court’s decision and reinstated the jury verdict for Ms. Maron.   In reinstating the Title VII retaliation verdict for Ms. Maron, the Fourth Circuit panel wrote in its opinion:

 “[w]e hold that the jury could have concluded that Maron was subjected to actions capable of dissuading a reasonable employee from complaining about discrimination. We base this conclusion on three sets of circumstances that occurred after Maron engaged in the protected activity of filing complaints of sex discrimination.”

Maron’s attorney, Nicholas Woodfield of The Employment Law Group, P.C., stated that he is “very pleased with the Fourth Circuit’s decision,” and noted that “it is important for juries to be heard, and the reinstated verdict is a clear message that the courts recognize that people who speak up need to be protected.”

Even though the case was originally filed in 2008, according to employment lawyer Nicholas Woodfield, “Ms. Maron didn’t want to give up her jury verdict, and we never stopped believing in her case.  It took four and a half years of hard work, but we won.”