Friday, August 22, 2008

Ex-Associate, Paralegal Win Damages From Former Firm

This is fantastic! Despite the fact that there is a cap on punitive damages, that firm should have to pay every single penny to this poor paralegal.

A Garden City, N.Y., tax certiorari firm must pay more than $716,500 in damages to a former associate and a paralegal who claim they lost their jobs after they became pregnant, a federal jury has decided.

Sitting in Central Islip, the panel of four women and three men Wednesday awarded only $16,499 in damages to Jacquelyn Todaro, a former associate at Siegel, Fenchel & Peddy, who was the lead plaintiff in the case.

However, the jurors decided that Maria H. Moscarelli, a former legal assistant who had worked at the firm for 16 years, should receive $203,838 for lost pay and $500,000 in punitive damages. The two plaintiffs had sought $15 million. ...

Moscarelli claimed that since beginning work for the firm in 1987, she had received pay increases every year, except in 1998, when she had a child. She contended that in 2002, when she became pregnant again, she was told she would not receive a raise for 2003, according to the suit. At that point, she was making around $60,000 a year.

She was terminated in August 2003, shortly after returning from maternity leave, according to Locke.

In court documents, the firm claimed it was downsizing, rather than firing employees vindictively, when it let Moscarelli go. Neither Todaro nor Moscarelli was replaced. The firm also claimed Moscarelli's assigned tasks were handled more smoothly while she was on leave.


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