Murphy Anderson wins appeal in sexual harassment retaliation case

October 9, 2008

The D.C. Court of Appeals affirmed a jury verdict for a Murphy Anderson client in a sexual harassment and retaliation case against her employer. Fred A. Smith Management Co. v. Cerpe, 957 A.2d 907 (D.C. 2008). Judge Farrell's opinion included several important holdings, including clarifying that plaintiffs are not required to prove psychological injury in order to demonstrate a hostile work environment. The Court also held there was sufficient evidence for the jury to find that the plaintiff was subjected to a hostile work environment and retaliation and affirmed an award of punitive damages.

Murphy Anderson attorneys also prevailed on their cross-appeal challenging the trial judge's reduction to attorneys' fees sought under the D.C. Human Rights Act. The Court held that the trial court abused its discretion by reducing the fee award based on the number of claims that went to the jury (compared to the number of claims pled in the complaint) and the number of attorneys used to staff the case.

Keira McNett argued the case in the D.C. Court of Appeals. Mark Hanna managed the litigation from its inception.