A vocation economics expert witness advises on a case involving a woman who claims she was repeatedly subjected to her male boss’s requests for dates and his regaling of his sexual exploits with his wife and coworkers in flagrant violation of company policies on office protocol and employee retention. The boss also frequently sought back rubs from female employees, which plaintiff refused to perform.
After plaintiff told her boss, who also served as her district manager, that she was offended, her otherwise good working relationship with him deteriorated. He yelled and screamed at plaintiff and berated her about her inability to successfully do her job. She alleges that one of the female sales assistants who obliged him was promoted. A male employee who complained about the treatment of the female employees was terminated.
Plaintiff said she received no resolution from her complaint to Human Resources. She was granted her transfer request, but still had regular daily phone contact with her boss, as he remained her district manager. Plaintiff alleges that her boss was abusive, disrespectful, vulgar, insulting and generally offensive each time she called.
She was written up several times, and her boss refused to approve discounts to her customers but allowed them for other employees, negatively impacting her ability to complete a sale and earn money. She ultimately was discharged.
She alleges the company interfered with her employment in retaliation for her complaints about her boss’s offensive behavior. Further, the company condoned and encouraged the actions or inaction of human resources personnel.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- What are the potential economic losses to plaintiff as a result of her constructive discharge?
Expert Witness Response
The economic loss consists of lost earnings and fringe benefits. At the time of her discharge, plaintiff was divorced with four children of majority age. She has since remarried.
In her three years of employment with the defendant, she earned $32,329, $52,815 and $59,935. She then began working for another retailer on commission. She earned $10,428 during her three months there. She earned at an annualized rate of $47,736 per year and her average earnings over her last four weeks annualize to $51,259 per year.
In January 2010, the average duration of unemployment nationally was 28.9 weeks and the median duration of unemployment was 18.6 weeks. After her termination from the second retailer, she was unemployed for approximately 108 weeks, until she secured employment as in telemarketing.
Based on my review of the limited job search data, it is my opinion that following her termination from the second retailer, plaintiff did not consistently conduct a reasonably thorough job search for comparable employment. Her current position is not comparable to her prior two positions.
We offer no opinions regarding liability. Our calculations assume that a finder of fact determines plaintiff will prevail on her claim. To estimate lost earnings we compare her projected “but for” separation earnings assuming continued employment with defendant to her projected earnings from alternate employment. These estimates are $12,026.23 and $58,533.