A former employee of Tucson-based Asarco LLC who said the company didn't protect her from sexual harassment has been awarded nearly $870,000 by a federal jury.
The ruling against the mining company was based on a claim that Angela Aguilar of Tucson was subjected to harassment by her supervisors at Asarco's Mission Mine complex in Sahuarita.
"The award is excessive and Asarco will be filing papers in the near future to have that award vacated," the company said Thursday in a written statement.
The Arizona Attorney General's Office and Aguilar each sued Asarco in 2008. The cases were later consolidated and moved to U.S. District Court in Tucson.
The lawsuit said that after Aguilar completed a probationary period, her direct supervisor asked her for sex, made comments about her appearance and touched her inappropriately.
Pornographic drawings, including one that identified Aguilar, then showed up in a portable toilet used by her and the supervisor, the lawsuit said.
Aguilar's former supervisors were not named as defendants; only Asarco was.
Although Aguilar complained to Asarco management about the harassment, the company failed to take action, Attorney General Tom Horne said in a news release. Because of that, Aguilar resigned.
After an eight-day trial, the jury found in favor of Aguilar on the sexual-harassment claim and awarded her $868,750 in punitive damages.
Aguilar also alleged in the lawsuit that Asarco had retaliated against her for complaining about the harassment, but the jury did not find in her favor on that claim.
In its statement, the company said it disagreed with Horne's characterization of the outcome as a victory against the company.
Asarco pointed out the jury gave Aguilar no compensatory damages for emotional distress and that she will receive no back pay.
"Asarco believes that the punitive damage award is in error because there is no reasonable relationship between actual damages and punitive damages," the company said.
Contact reporter Dale Quinn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4197.