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New Jersey Guard Wins $3.75 Million Harassment Suit

On May 27, 1999, a Burlington county jury in New Jersey ruled in favor of prison guard Robert Lockley Jr. and awarded him $3.75 million in damages. Lockley, 39, a guard at the Mid State Correctional Facility in Ft. Dix, New Jersey, filed suit claiming fellow guard Ronda Turner, 37, began sexually harassing him in 1990. Lockley claimed that Turner called him to invite him to her home and when he declined, saying he was married and not interested, she began following him around the prison asking him to go out with her or have sex with her.

When Lockley complained to his supervisors they did nothing to stop the harassment and instead retaliated against him. The jury ruled in Lockley's favor on all counts and awarded him $750,000 in compensatory damages for emotional distress and $3 million in punitive damages. According to the National Law Journal, this is probably the first time a Jury anywhere in the country has ever awarded punitive damages for female on male hostile workplace discrimination.

Lockley still works at the Mid State Correctional Facility as do Turner and the other defendants. The state has appealed the verdict. Lockley's lawyer, Daniel Fleming, simply stated "It's a big win." See: Lockley v. New Jersey, Burlington county, Case No. L03195-94.

The trial court later awarded Fleming $822,000 in legal fees for taking a difficult case. The fee award included a 60% enhancement as an incentive for lawyers to take similar cases in the future.

National Law Journal, Seattle Times and Palm Beach Post

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Related legal case

Lockley v. New Jersey