Billionaire CEO facing $58M in damages for his harassment of a female assistant
Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Billionaire CEO facing $58M in damages for his harassment of a female assistant

By Pamela Wolf, J.D.

A California jury found the CEO committed battery and sexual battery on a female employee and that she suffered a sexually hostile work environment, awarding $8.25 million in compensatory and $50 million in punitive damages.

After finding the billionaire CEO Alki David committed battery and sexual battery on a female employee, and that during her employment at Alki David Productions and FilmOn TV, Inc., she suffered a sexually hostile work environment, a California state court jury awarded the woman $8.25 million in compensatory damages on November 26. Seven days later, on December 2, the jury came back with a second verdict awarding her $50 million in punitive damages. The plaintiff also sued Hologram USA, but the jury found that she was not an employee of that company.

It is one of the largest sexual harassment punitive damage awards in American legal history, according to Attorney Gloria Allred, one of the plaintiff’s attorneys.

Egregious harassment. Among other things, the jury found that the CEO "intended to cause a harmful or offensive contact with the female employee’s "breasts and/or buttocks and/or groin." The complaint details a series of egregious incidents in which the CEO made offensive contact with the production assistant, including these:

  • He would regularly come into her cubicle, walk to where she was sitting and swivel her chair around until her body faced him, and then thrust his pelvic area into her face and tilt his head backwards and begin making moaning sounds as though simulating that he was having sex. When finished he swiveled her chair back toward her desk and appeared to zip up his pants and/or buckle his belt, thanking her as he walked away.
  • With force he pushed her into a chair, put his hand on her head and performed a lap dance as he pulled her head back and forth while making thrusting gestures simulating intercourse while a client watched, and stated, "I've been wanting to do that to her for so long."
  • While two other employees were in the room, and she was helping him with his computer, he put his hand on her left thigh moving her closer to him, and then moving his hand up her thigh until he was able to rub her private parts.
  • He once came up from behind her, bent over her, put both of his hands under the top of her dress, and cupped both of his hands on her breasts and squeezed them.

"We believed that Mr. David’s misconduct in the workplace was outrageous and was such that it would shock the conscience of the community," Allred said. "We are very pleased that the jury agreed and expressed their strong disapproval in their punitive damages verdict."

"This should be a teaching moment for Mr. David and for other employers, as well," Allred continued. "In this "Me Too" movement, women like [the plaintiff] are no longer willing to suffer in silence. They will overcome their fear and make those who have sexually battered them or sexually harassed them accountable in a court of law."

Companies: Hologram USA, Alki David Productions, and FilmOn TV, Inc.

Attorneys: Gloria Allred (Allred, Maroko and Goldberg) for the plaintiff.

News: LitigationNewsTrends Discrimination SexDiscrimination SexualHarassment CoverageLiability RemediesDamages

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