Jury Sides With Fired Woman
Feb. 10, 1998
NEW YORK (AP) _ A federal jury has awarded $500,000 to a former saleswoman who said she was fired for speaking Spanish and because the company president didn't like her Puerto Rican accent.
The jury awarded Irma Rivera $125,000 in compensatory damages and $375,000 in punitive damages on Friday. It also said she is entitled to back pay and future pay until retirement, which could amount to another $200,000, said her lawyer, Joseph C. Maya.
``The company disagrees with the jury verdict very strongly,'' said Jeffrey H. Daichman, a lawyer for Baccarat, the high-end Manhattan store where Ms. Rivera sold crystal and china from 1986 through 1994.
He said the company will ask for a new trial and for the verdict to be set aside.
Ms. Rivera, 59, was told she was not permitted to speak Spanish to co-workers and that company president Jean-Luc Negre did not like her accent, Maya said.
Soon afterward, Ms. Rivera _ the company's top sales person from 1992 to 1995 _ was fired, he said.