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Passantino v. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products

212 F.3d 493 (2000)

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Passantino v. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

212 F.3d 493 (2000)

Facts

Jennifer Passantino (plaintiff) went to work for Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products, Inc. (CPI) (defendant) in 1979 when she was 25 years old. Passantino worked in a CPI division that was characterized by one of CPI’s own executives as an old-boys’ network. Nevertheless, Passantino was very successful and rose through the ranks to become one of CPI’s most effective female managers. However, Passantino began to suspect that she had been passed over because of her sex for promotions for which she was qualified. In 1993, Passantino and the only other female manager in her division complained to their supervisor. After Passantino and her colleague complained, CPI retaliated against Passantino in numerous ways, including by taking responsibilities and accounts from her, excluding her from managers’ meetings, and refusing to consider her for higher-level positions after she declined to accept roles that were demotions. Ultimately, Passantino filed suit against CPI under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and the Washington Law Against Discrimination. The jury found that CPI had not discriminated against Passantino initially but had retaliated against her for complaining about what she perceived as sex discrimination. The jury awarded Passantino backpay, front pay, compensatory damages for emotional distress, and punitive damages. On CPI’s motion, the district court reduced the punitive-damages award to the $300,000 Title VII cap and affirmed the remainder of the damages. CPI then moved for judgment as a matter of law or, in the alternative, for a new trial or to amend the judgment. The district court denied those motions, and CPI appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Reinhardt, J.)

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