My Boss’s Voice Made Me Vomit!
That was the headline in a 2/15/11 story in The New York Post.
The story was about a lawsuit filed by New York Housing Authority Superintendent Anthony Dingles against the New York City Housing Authority and his boss, Demetrice Gadson. Dingles alleged Gadson began a campaign of constant verbal attack after he complained to higher ups about her poor management techniques. As a result, he said he literally became sick when heard her voice. He said the stress forced him to get medication for his stomach and intestinal system, inflamed his bleeding prostrate and he was so beaten down emotionally that he began therapy.
The New York Post’s web blog carried mocking comments: “He’s obviously not married, or he’d be used to it,” and “Where are the Sopranos when you need them?” The Post gave the incident its annual Golden Stapler “As the Stomach Turns” award.
After a nine-day trial, a federal jury in New York concluded in December that Gadson violated the Dingles civil rights by filing frivolous disciplinary charges against him in retaliation for complaints that were protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The jury awarded Dingles only “nominal” damages of $1. However,even that small amount is a disaster for the Housing Authority because it entitles the attorneys who represented Dingles, Bennitta Joseph and Alexander Coleman, to collect attorney fees from the city. Such fees could reach up to $450,000. And this doesn’t take into account what the city paid to defend Gadson, as well as all of the lost work time, absenteeism, increased health costs, etc.
Taxpayers of New York City ultimately will pay the bill for Gadson’s bullying. It might have been avoided. The New York Senate passed a workplace anti-bully bill in 2010 but it subsequently died in the House.
Meanwhile, Dingles, who still works for the housing authority, succeeded in protecting his job and no longer is supervised by Gadson. Which is not a bad result for Dingles.