In October last year we reported on a federal jury verdict that the Maine Employee Rights Group had obtained for our client Valerie Peasley. The jury found that Regis Corporation, which owns and operates the hair salon in Bangor where Ms. Peasley worked, unlawfully fired Ms. Peasley because she blew the whistle on people using and selling illegal drugs in the workplace. The jury awarded Ms. Peasley $120,000.
Last week, the court awarded Ms. Peasley an additional amount of over $20,700 for back pay and lost employee benefits. The court also ordered Regis to reinstate Ms. Peasley to her former position at the hair salon. Regis objected to reinstatement, arguing that returning Ms. Peasley to the hair salon would be a “recipe for future antagonism and problems.” The court held that the “overarching preference” under employment discrimination laws is to reinstate unlawfully terminated employees to their former positions. Potential hostility in the workplace upon the employee’s return is not a sufficient reason to deny reinstatement. Citing a First Circuit case, the court reasoned that “the goals of Title VII would be ill served if we permitted such routine antagonism to be an adequate ground for denying reinstatement.”