Jack in the Box this week was ordered to pay $15.4 million to a former employee who says she was harassed by a manager after she was injured on the job and she complained about some of the restaurant’s employment practices.
A jury in Los Angeles Superior Court awarded Blanca Ramirez $5.4 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages, according to a federal securities filing.
The San Diego-based burger chain said in its filing that it “disagrees with the verdict and the damages awarded” and plans to file motions with the judge in the case. If those motions are unsuccessful, the company said that it intends to appeal the decision.
Nevertheless, it is not an insignificant award. Jack in the Box generated $25 million in net income in the company’s fiscal second quarter ended April 14.
Ramirez filed her lawsuit in 2015, when she was 56. She worked for Jack in the Box between 2001 and 2013, when she was a supervisor at the restaurant, traditionally working from 2-10 p.m.
She says that she was injured on the job in 2013, making it difficult to perform some of her tasks. Ramirez in her lawsuit said the company denied her workers’ compensation benefits and wouldn’t provide accommodations for her to do the job.
Ramirez also said she complained to Jack in the Box human resources after one of her employees said that Ramirez’s supervisor sent her a sexually explicit photograph. In her complaint, she argues that she was reprimanded in retaliation.
Ramirez also said in her complaint that she “moved in a guarded manner” following her injury and was mocked as “grandma” as a result.
She also alleged that Jack in the Box didn’t provide accommodations after a second injury that year, and that her complaints about “inappropriate sexual activities” between male managers and underage female employees were ignored and instead angered her supervisor.
Jack in the Box denied the allegations, arguing that the initial injury did not occur on the job and saying she never requested an accommodation after the second injury. The company also argues that Ramirez was fired for cause, saying she had manipulated a system designed to measure speed of service in the drive-thru.
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