Winery ignores evidence against manager who sexually harassed female employees. The Los Angeles County Superior Court awards the two Plaintiffs $11 Million Dollars.

Jury Verdict California announced today that a Los Angeles County Winery was ordered to pay $11 Million to two female Plaintiffs who were sexually harassed by their manager.

  • Facts and Background:

Plaintiff Amber Brown worked for Keyways Vineyard and Winery for about nine months when Carlos Pineiro was hired as the new General Manager.

Megan Meadowcroft was hired shortly after Mr. Pineiro started working for Keyways. Ms. Brown and Ms. Meadowcroft complained about Mr. Pineiro to Silverton Partners and Essence Business Group, the owners and managers of Keyways. After having worked at Keyways for about two weeks, Mr. Pineiro was fired. After her complaints about Mr. Pineiro, Ms. Meadowcroft was not added onto new work schedules.

After he was fired, Mr. Pineiro reached out to Silverton and Essence about being re-hired, promising additional sales, connections, and better behavior. Only two months after being fired, Mr. Pineiro was re-hired as the general manager.  When Ms. Brown learned Mr. Pineiro was re-hired, she again complained to Silverton and Essence. When her complaints were ignored Ms. Brown sought and obtained a temporary restraining order.  Thereafter, Ms. Brown was put on leave and Mr. Pineiro was permitted to continue working pending the final restraining order hearing. After the restraining order was granted, Ms. Brown was never put back on the schedule despite following up with defendants multiple times.

  • Plaintiff’s Contentions:

Plaintiff Brown contended that Mr. Pineiro made numerous sexually inappropriate, unwelcome comments to Ms. Brown. He would attempt to flirt with her, get her alone in confined spaces or block her path, touch her on the knee, and leer. Mr. Pineiro would also drink on the job to the point of being drunk. On one occasion, Mr. Pineiro pulled Ms. Brown down some stairs inside the winery while intoxicated at work. After he was fired, Mr. Pineiro continued to call and harass Ms. Brown over the phone.  As to plaintiff Meadowcroft, she contended that Mr. Pineiro made many sexually explicit comments to Ms. Meadowcroft, sexual gestures, put his hand on hers to try and demonstrate sexual gestures, touched her butt and vagina while her back was turned, pushed her against a wall in a shed and told her she could be a manager if she would “fuck” him.

Plaintiffs waived economic damages. Ms. Brown contended that she was significantly harmed by Mr. Pineiro’s actions and the failure of defendants Silverton and Essence to protect her as one of their employees.  She suffers from Panic Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and will continue to deal with these disorders going forward.  Ms. Meadowcroft  also contended that she was deeply harmed by the actions of defendants and described symptomology consistent with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Other witnesses testified at trial that they witnessed Mr. Pineiro engage in sexually inappropriate behaviors toward Ms. Brown, Ms. Meadowcroft, and other customers and employees.

  • Defendant’s Contentions:

Silverton argued that Silverton was not the employer; that the employer was Essence Business Group, Inc.  Both defendant companies disputed the extent of plaintiffs’ damages.  Mr. Pineiro contended that he did not engage in any harassing or other inappropriate behavior.