Cook County Hit By Huge Discrimination Verdict

On December 12, 2011, a federal jury in Chicago hit Cook County with a huge discrimination verdict.  Dr. Vivian Renta claimed that the County and Dr. Russell Tomar discriminated against her on the basis of race and gender, and further alleged that the County retaliated against her once she filed a charge of dsicrimination.  The jury agreed, and returned a verdict in the sum of $7.6 million.  Dr. Renta was a senior attending physician in the County's pathology department.  In 2003, she filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, alleging that she had been harassed and been paid less than her peers because of her race, Puerto Rican, and gender.  In September, 2004, the County terminated her employment.  Dr. Renta had been employed by the County for nine years.  The County contended that Dr. Renta misdiagnosed several patients with cancer.  The physician denied the County's assertions, and claimed that her error rate was lower than her peers.  The jury's verdict broke out to $4 million in pain and suffering and $3.2 million in lost wages.  Post-trial motions could reduce the amount of the verdict.  Under federal law, compensatory damages for most discrimination claims are capped at $300,000.  However, Dr. Renta's attorneys will likely submit a petition for attorney's fees, which is allowable for discrimination claims.  I would expect that the claims for fees will be substantial.
Categories: Employment Law