Whirlpool Corporation, the leading producer of major household appliances, must pay over $1 million to a black woman who was harassed for months, then brutally attacked by a white male co-worker at its Tennessee plant, a federal court judge has ruled.
In his 30-page ruling, Senior Judge John T. Nixon said his decision was based on Carlotta Freeman’s “emotional and psychological injuries caused by Whirlpool’s ineffective response to her repeated complaints of racial and sexual harassment.” The judge presides over the Nashville Division of the United States District Court for Middle Tennessee.
Freeman,”once a cheerful, upbeat woman, became increasingly withdrawn” as a direct result of her attack, according to several medical experts who testified during the bench trial. The attack also left her with chronic, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Now, the judge found, “she can no longer participate in normal activities, including grocery shopping or attending church because she has panic attacks.” Since 2004, “she’s been in mental health treatment, yet her physicians believe Freeman, 51, will not be able to work again,” Nixon’s ruling states.
Freeman’s ordeal began in January 2004, when she was taunted with “sexually explicit and racially charged statements” from Willie Baker, the white co-worker. Included in them were words in a song he sang to her every day: “I want to f— you when I wake up every morning and I sing this song about you,” Nixon said.