Roby v. McKesson HBOC, 2006 WL 3775897 (Cal. Ct. App. Dec. 26, 2006)

After doing a “stellar” job for 25 years and working as a customer service support liaison for McKesson, Charlene Roby developed a panic disorder and began missing substantial amounts of time from work. McKesson fired Roby for abusing its attendance policy, though many of her absences were attributable to her mental disability. The jury found McKesson liable for wrongful termination, harassment, discrimination, and failure to accommodate a mental disability under the Fair Employment and Housing Act. The jury also found McKesson and Roby’s supervisor, Karen Schoener, liable for mental disability harassment in the amounts of $600,000 and $500,000, respectively. The Court of Appeal reversed the judgment (as to the harassment verdicts) on the ground that “evidence that Schoener treated Roby with general scorn and contempt and [that Schoener] failed to show any sympathy for [Roby’s] disability…is not sufficient to create liability for harassment based on a hostile work environment.” Cf. In re The Exxon Valdez, 2006 WL 3755189 (9th Cir. Dec. 22, 2006) ($4.5 billion punitive damages award reduced to $2.5 billion in case involving large oil spill).