May 20 — The Puerto Rican Maritime Transport Authority isn't entitled to reduction of a $95,750 back pay award granted by a jury to a female employee who alleged that she didn't receive a promotion because of her sex, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled May 16 .
Affirming a trial court's denial of remittitur to Autoridad de Transporte Maritime y la Islas Municipio (MTA), the First Circuit found that the authority failed to show that damages to Laura Climent-Garcia should be limited in duration based on the 14-month period in which the male worker selected for promotion allegedly held the interim position.
Nothing in the evidentiary record showed that the position “had a predetermined end date,” and witness testimony indicated that its duration “may be indefinite or undetermined,” the court said.
In addition, the court rejected the MTA's argument that the jury award failed to properly offset overtime pay received by Climent-Garcia. The authority presented only “scant evidence” of any overtime wages paid to Climent-Garcia, such that it “cannot say that no rational jury could have calculated Climent's damages without offsetting overtime,” the court said.
Judge Juan R. Torruella wrote the opinion, joined by Judges Sandra L. Lynch and Kermit V. Lipez.
According to the court, Climent-Garcia worked as an operations supervisor at an MTA ferry terminal in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.
In July 2007, the authority's human resources director recommended Climent-Garcia for an interim maritime transport administrator position at a terminal in San Juan, Puerto Rico. However, Juan Cirino-Martinez, the MTA's executive director, allegedly expressed skepticism about selecting Climent-Garcia because her “childcare responsibilities would make commuting from Fajardo to San Juan for work inappropriate,” the court recounted.
Climent-Garcia overheard the conversation, expressed interest in the position and insisted that she would make appropriate child-care arrangements. Cirino-Martinez purportedly responded that only males staffed the San Juan terminal and that he'd already selected a male, Stanley Mulero, for the position.
Climent-Garcia sued for sex discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Puerto Rico law. Her claim went to the jury, which awarded her $50,000 in compensatory damages and $97,750 in back pay, ultimately doubling the award to $291,500 pursuant to Puerto Rico law. The U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico denied the MTA's attempt to reduce the back pay award.
On appeal, the MTA argued that Climent-Garcia should be eligible for only 14 months of back pay, corresponding with the time period in which Mulero held the administrator position.
Disagreeing, the First Circuit pointed out that the MTA “significantly mischaracterize[d]” testimony from Mulero in which he discussed receiving a merit raise after 14 months, and that testimony from other officials indicated that the “duration of an interim post may be indefinite or undetermined.”
The authority presented only “scant evidence” of any overtime wages paid to Climent-Garcia, such that it “cannot say that no rational jury could have calculated Climent's damages without offsetting overtime,” the First Circuit said.
Although Mulero eventually left the position, the MTA offered no evidence on when he departed and whether it coincided with the end of the interim post, the court said.
As such, a jury had no evidence to determine that if Climent-Garcia had received the promotion, she would have ended her tenure on the same date as Mulero or couldn't have served in the position until trial.
The appeals court also found no merit in the MTA's contention that the jury failed to offset Climent-Garcia's overtime pay. The court said the MTA, among other things, offered no “extrinsic evidence in the form of pay stubs or records to support its calculations.”
“This scant evidence cannot carry the day,” the court said.
Puerto Rico Legal Advocates represented the MTA. Guerrero-Calderon & Irizarry-Cuebas represented Climent-Garcia.
Text of the opinion is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/ ClimentGarcia_v_Autoridad_de_Transporte_Docket_ No_1202442_1st_Cir.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)