PNC Bank could have to pay a pretty penny to settle a case of workplace sexual harassment after a former employee says the bank failed to shield her from a white male customer known to harass female PNC employees — African-American women in particular.
A New Jersey jury this week ordered the Pittsburgh-based bank to pay.
Damara Scott was awarded $2.4 million in damages Monday in her case against the bank, after she accused customer Patrick Pignatello of sexually harassing her outside the Glen Ridge branch where she worked in 2013, according to NBC News. In her complaint, Scott claims Pignatello followed her from the bank out to her car lot where he proceeded to pester her before grinding into her buttocks.
Lawyers for the plaintiff allege PNC took no action to bar Pignatello from the premises in the wake of the alleged assault. The wealthy socialite, dubbed “Mr. Glen Ridge” because of his philanthropy work, was charged with sexual assault in the incident and died less than two months later after suffering a heart attack. He was 77 years old.
“The jury recognized that PNC failed to provide a safe workplace for Ms. Scott,” said Nancy Erika Smith, an attorney for Scott. “We hope PNC will now take the steps to eliminate harassment throughout the company.”
Scott, who worked as a wealth manager at the bank, settled a lawsuit with the local businessman’s estate last year for an undisclosed amount, NJ.com reported.
Scott, 41, was leaving work when she noticed a customer standing near the door. When she asked if he was coming in, he reportedly replied: “No, I’m following you. I offer full services and I’m willing to please.”
That’s when he brushed up against her.
According to her 2015 lawsuit, Scott said Pignatello was known for his notoriously bizarre behavior, especially toward Black female workers and customers at the bank. PNC reportedly banned him a few times, but stopped just short of closing his accounts because he was a profitable customer.
Scott has said the incident triggered her past experiences of abuse, leaving her traumatized and suffering panic attacks. She also no longer works at the bank and said she hopes her case will send a poignant message.
“I want it to be clear to companies, to businesses, that women matter and women should matter above profit,” she told NJ.com in an interview.
In a statement, PNC Bank said it was “disappointed” by the verdict and plans to appeal.
“We have a long-standing history of providing a safe workplace for our employees, and robust policies and procedures to help ensure that we continue to do so,” it said.