May v. Chrysler Grp., LLC, No. 11-3000 (7th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
More than 50 times, 2002-2005, May, a pipefitter at Chrysler’s plant, was the target of racist, xenophobic, homophobic, anti-Semitic graffiti. Messages included: “Otto Cuban good Jew is a dead Jew,” and “fuck Otto Cuban Jew nigger lover.” May found several death-threat notes in his toolbox and had his bike and car tires punctured. Sugar was poured in the gas tanks of his cars and a dead bird wrapped to look like a Ku Klux Klansman was placed in his work station. May contacted police and the FBI and complained to Chrysler. Human resources met with tradesmen and reminded them that harassment was unacceptable, a procedure was implemented to document the harassment, efforts were made to discover who was at the plant when the incidents likely occurred, and a handwriting analyst was retained. The harasser was never caught. May sued Chrysler in 2002 under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. 1981. Only his hostile work environment claim survived summary judgment; a jury awarded $709,000 in compensatory damages and $3.5 million in punitive damages. May accepted remittitur to $300,000 and the court vacated the award of punitive damages. The Seventh Circuit The district court affirmed on liability, but reversed for reinstatement of the verdict.