A former PNC Bank employee has been awarded $2.4 million after one of the Bank’s white customers sexually assaulted her.
A New Jersey jury sided with Damara Scott’s claims that the customer, Patrick Pignatello, 77, sexually harassed her outside the Bank’s branch where she worked in Glen Ridge which is said to be an affluent town about 16 miles west of Manhattan.
According to Scott’s lawsuit, Pignatello followed her from the bank to her car in 2013, grabbed her and grinded her buttocks.
Pignatello was charged with sexual assault after the incident but died of a heart attack before he was arraigned. He was said to have a long history of sexually harassing African-American female employees and customers in the PNC Bank branch.
In her suit, Scott, 41, claimed that the bank knew Pignatello, who was said to be wealthy customer had a history of harassing behavior aimed at African-American women at the bank, but did nothing about it. According to Scott, more than six years after the incident she is still traumatized.
The jury sided with Scott, awarding her $2.4 million in compensatory damages.
“The jury recognized that PNC had failed to provide a safe workplace for Ms. Scott,” said Nancy Erika Smith, one of Scott’s attorneys. “We hope PNC will now take the steps to eliminate harassment throughout the company.”
“One of the great things about our justice system is that citizens can sit in judgment on powerful corporations and hold them accountable,” said Smith. “Women are tired of employers who tolerate sexual harassment.”
PNC Bank which is based in Pittsburgh, plans to appeal the verdict, saying there were “errors made by the court”, NJ.com reported.
“PNC does not condone harassment of any kind. We have a long-standing history of providing a safe workplace for our employees, and robust policies and procedures to help ensure that we continue to do so. We are disappointed by the verdict, even though the jury expressly found that this was not a case where punitive damages were appropriate,” bank officials said in a statement.