A federal jury has awarded $12,000 to a woman who sued the local office of the environmental group Greenpeace for sexual harassment.
Samantha Barnes, 31, sued Greenpeace last year, accusing the organization of failing to control sexual comments and slurs she endured at the office. Barnes, who left the organization in 1994, described a “frat-house type of environment” with drinking, drug use and harassment.
“There was consistent verbal and physical abuse,” she said after Monday’s U.S. District Court verdict.
Jurors found Barnes was sexually harassed, though not discriminated against on the basis of race. Barnes, who is black, was awarded $12,000 in lost wages and compensation for emotional distress.
“I’m not really sure we lost,” said Greenpeace attorney Jeffrey Grant, who called the award “nominal.”
Barnes was the only one of 75 employees at Greenpeace’s Seattle office to complain of harassment, he said.
“She wanted to make Greenpeace out as bad as could be imagined, and the jury said that just wasn’t the case,” Grant said.
“Her complaints focused on one employee,” he said. “He’s no longer there.”
The man left the office more than a year ago, but Barnes’ attorney, Karen Unger, says he was not the only issue. The organization tolerated his actions and did not intervene when Barnes complained about him, she said.
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