Peña v Ingham County Road Commission
Joe Peña was a laborer with the Ingham County Road Commission, and for thirteen years he was forced to endure despicable racial slurs and a hostile work environment. We brought a race and national origin claim on his behalf. Joe's boss told him point blank "there are people here that don't want Mexicans, blacks or women working here. You've got to live with it."
Soon after we filed suit, the Ingham County Road Commission charged Joe with filing a fraudulent workers compensation claim 4 1/2 years before the lawsuit was filed. Joe's supervisors attempted at every turn to alienate his coworkers from him. One even falsely told his coworkers at a morning meeting that Joe filed a sexual harassment complaint against all of the employees.
In June 2000, the jury returned a verdict of $1,300,000.00 for emotional distress. Shortly after the verdict, the Ingham County Road Commission falsely charged Joe and one of his witnesses with sexual harassment. After we again intervened, the Ingham County Road Commission cleared Joe and his friend of wrongdoing. We had to sue the Ingham County Road Commission again because of their continuing retaliation, and the case settled for a confidential amount in 2003, after the Court of Appeals affirmed the jury verdict.