A Georgia woman who lost her job over allegations she had been sexually assaulted by a co-worker at a car dealership was given $10.4 million in civil damages after she went to court to sue her former employer for discrimination, the company said.
Kia Motors Inc., which operates nearly 100 dealerships in Georgia and South Carolina, said in a statement that it agreed to pay $5.5 million to Maria S. and Ronald R. Fosse, both of Georgia, and another employee for their “troubled” claims.
Maria S., who worked at Kia Motors in Jacksonville, Fla., said she was told she would not be allowed to return to work until the allegations against her were resolved.
She and her former co-workers also filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency that investigates allegations of discrimination, harassment and retaliation against employees.
Fosse was also paid $1.5m for his work with Kia.
“The company and the people involved have made tremendous strides over the past year in the fight against sexual harassment and discrimination,” Kia said in the statement.
“We hope to provide a positive message to other women and minorities who may have suffered sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination and to help ensure the well-being of all employees.”
Fosseles’ lawyer, Robert R. Smith, said his client had been given an apology by the company but still believes the company failed to adequately handle the allegations.
He said that after a series of complaints, he learned that Fossels was “still a suspect” in the case.
Smith said his clients’ claims were dismissed.
He declined to comment on the specific details of the case, saying he was still gathering information.
The case came to light after the woman sued Kia in February, saying she was fired after telling a colleague she was afraid to come forward about the assault.
In a letter to the EEOC, the woman alleged she was harassed, verbally and physically assaulted, and fired.
She also alleged Fossels assaulted her, threatened her, and told her that she was “a piece of sh*t” for reporting the incident to her superiors.
After the allegations were made public, the EEOS said it took the case to the Equal Opportunity Division of the U.S. Department of Labor.
In a letter sent on Monday to the office of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Sessions said the EEOL will investigate the allegations, which are still under investigation.
Sessions said the office will investigate whether the alleged behavior violates federal law and the Equal Pay Act, which prohibits sexual harassment.
Fosses has pleaded not guilty.
The EEOC said it will review the case for possible violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans gender discrimination in employment.