A federal jury ordered Mazda Motor Corp. to pay $4.4 million after hearing Gabriella Arango’s charges that her boss repeatedly and inappropriately touched her and chased her around their Miami office. Arango also alleged that her boss, Masaki Nakashima, had struck her with a telephone and told her to go sit in a corner because she’d been “a bad girl.”
Arango notified Mazda officials about the harassment, both in written and verbal form. Mazda personnel acknowledged that they had received Arango’s complaints but contend that her problems were caused by personality conflicts, and not sexual harassment. Lawyers for Mazda described Arango as difficult person who had trouble getting along with her colleagues.
Arango was a Mazda employee for five years and had been promoted from her first job as a secretary to a marketing position before she was fired in June 1996. She was awarded $3 million for emotional pain and suffering and $1 million for Mazda’s “negligent supervision and/or retention” of Nakashima. Also awarded was $300,000 for future wages and benefits, $90,400 in lost wages, and $20,300 in past and future medical costs.
Mazda denies any culpability and will seek to reduce the award to $1.3 million.