Jury awards $1.7 million to Calif. woman spanked at work in team-building exercise
FRESNO, Calif. – A woman who was spanked in front of her co-workers in what her employer called a camaraderie-building exercise has been awarded $1.7 million.Janet Orlando, 53, was subjected to sexual harassment and sexual battery when she was paddled on the rear end two years ago at home security company Alarm One Inc., a jury ruled Friday.The jury of six men and six women said Orlando did not suffer from sexual assault as she had alleged.Jurors awarded Orlando $10,000 for economic loss, $40,000 for future medical costs and $450,000 for emotional distress, pain and suffering. They awarded her $1.2 million in punitive damages.Orlando’s attorney, Nicholas “Butch” Wagner, did not return calls for comment.K. Poncho Baker, an attorney for Alarm One, said the award was excessive.”I think the jury was so upset at Alarm One that they went overboard,” Baker said. “Not to say that what Alarm One did was right, but this allows her to manipulate the system.”Orlando quit in 2004, less than a year after she was hired at the Fresno office, saying she was humiliated during the company’s team-building practices.Employees were paddled with rival companies’ yard signs as part of a contest that pitted sales teams against each other, according to court documents. The winners poked fun at the losers, throwing pies at them, feeding them baby food, making them wear diapers and swatting their buttocks.Lawyers for Alarm One, an Anaheim-based, 300-employee company, said the spankings were not discriminatory because they were given to both male and female workers and that Orlando and others willingly took part. The company has since abandoned the practice.During the trial, company attorneys revealed that Orlando had sued a previous employer, also claiming that she had been sexually harassed.