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In a case that turned the tables on sexual harassment, a Philadelphia jury has awarded $150,000 to a man who said his employer invaded his privacy by subjecting him to an embarrassing, police-style interrogation after he had an innocent, romantic tryst with a female co-worker that she had reported to management as a rape. The jury also found that the woman had defamed the man by making false accusations, but awarded him no money on that claim. And in a third prong to its verdict, the jury rejected the woman’s counterclaims of assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress. According to the suit, Mark Jackson, a former employee of Philadelphia-based chemical manufacturer Rohm & Haas, was confronted at work by company lawyers and a member of the company’s security department about two weeks after he had dinner and spent the night with co-worker June McCrory. Jackson claimed the investigating lawyers asked excruciatingly personal questions about the specifics of the sexual encounter. Plaintiff’s attorney Richard Silverberg said Jackson, an accountant, continued to work at Rohm & Haas for months after the incident, but was forced to quit after the lawsuit was started and he learned that many more of his co-workers were aware of the accusations. “He felt like everyone was looking at him like he was a rapist,” Silverberg said. A psychiatrist who has been treating Jackson testified at trial that Jackson was “fighting a losing battle” trying to maintain his dignity in the workplace. In August 2000, he left his job on disability and hasn’t returned. Silverberg said Jackson decided to sue because he believed the company had gone too far with its investigation. “This had nothing to do with sexual harassment in the workplace. It didn’t occur on company property, it wasn’t during business hours, and they weren’t engaged in any Rohm & Haas business,” Silverberg said. Jackson and McCrory didn’t even work in the same department, Silverberg said, and had only recently met when they were introduced by another co-worker. Silverberg said he believes the company had no business investigating the incident at all. “Rape is a police matter. An employer shouldn’t be undertaking to investigate whether a rape occurred,” Silverberg said. McCrory never went to the police, he said. Company officials said they felt compelled to investigate because McCrory’s allegations presented the possibility of danger to other women. But Silverberg argued that even if the investigation were legitimate, the questions posed to Jackson were beyond the pale. He also said the interrogation was designed to intimidate Jackson. One of the questioners was Wayne Davis, a former FBI agent who headed the Philadelphia office and now works as security for Rohm & Haas. After interviewing both McCrory and Jackson, the investigation simply ended, Silverberg said. In the trial, the jury heard conflicting accounts of what happened on the night that Jackson and McCrory had their single date. Jackson said he had offered McCrory a ride home because SEPTA, the local transit system, was on strike. After visiting a few nightclubs, Jackson said that McCrory wanted to watch a movie. Since it was already the wee hours of the morning, he suggested they go to his place and watch “Mrs. Doubtfire” on video. After dozing on the couch, Jackson said the two decided to go to bed, and that the sex they had was consensual. But McCrory said Jackson had offered to sleep on the couch while she slept in his bed. She said she awoke to find him molesting her and that the sex was not consensual. She said she went to the bathroom to get away and that she then demanded that Jackson drive her home. Jackson said McCrory seemed to regret her actions soon after and that, during the ride to her home, she insisted that she had never slept with a man on a first date and didn’t want him to get the wrong idea. The next day, Jackson said, McCrory called him for a ride to work. He said he agreed to take her even though he wasn’t working, but later called to reschedule and proposed a date on the next day — a drive to work and a movie after. But on the second day, Jackson said he was forced to cancel the date because he injured his shoulder playing basketball. Silverberg said he believes McCrory felt that she was being discarded like a “one-night stand.” Her report to Rohm & Haas two weeks later, he said, was precipitated by a co-worker who insisted that she tell management of the incident after hearing her account because it sounded like she had suffered a rape. Jackson said he tried to get in touch with McCrory several times because she had left her driver’s license with him and he wanted to return it. But he said he couldn’t get in touch with her. In its verdict, the jury found that Rohm & Haas had invaded Jackson’s privacy, but rejected his claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Silverberg said he was pleased with the jury’s finding, but is considering an appeal because Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Mary Collins did not allow the jury to consider awarding punitive damages. Rohm & Haas was represented by attorneys James D. Pagliero and Paul J. Greco of Morgan Lewis & Bockius of Philadelphia. McCrory was represented by Nancy J. Gellman and Kelly Huller of Conrad O’Brien Gellman & Rohn, also of Philadelphia. Silverberg was assisted at trial by attorney Steven Feinstein.

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