Today, in the opinion of Waffle House, Inc. vs. Cathie Williams, the Texas Supreme Court threw out a jury verdict in favor of a female employee who had been subjected to sexual harassment at work. The woman, who had been the victim of assault by a cook, sued her employer, Waffle House, Inc. The conduct involved both offensive comments and contact.
At trial, the jury found that Waffle House had been grossly negligent, and the jury awarded the woman both actual damages and punitive damages. However, since she had brought suit under both the statutory law and common law, the Court threw out the larger, common law judgment. The Court restricted her recovery to the statutory law, even though the statute does not have such a provision. In fact, had the offending conduct only been assaultive, and not sexual, she would have been able to maintain her common law rights. But, the Court ruled that statute took away her common law rights, even though it does not say so.