Million Dollar Verdict in Whirlpool Harassment Case

A million dollar verdict was the only good thing to come of Carlotta Freeman’s time at the Whirlpool plant in La Vergne, TN. This was the award from Federal judge John T. Nixon at the conclusion of her suit against the company for racial and sexual harassment.

Freeman claimed that Willie Baker, a white male co-worker, repeatedly made lewd and inappropriate comments and gestures in the plant and also in the break room. Her complaints to superiors largely fell on deaf ears. Despite assurances that something would be done, an investigation was never started and the supervisor never spoke with Baker. It was not until Freeman and another African-American woman, Chinica Lillard, complained about racial slurs to Kim Wheeler, a white female co-worker, that something finally started to happen. Unfortunately what happened was the supervisor advising the women to ignore Baker and suggesting Freeman just go ahead and have sex with Baker so he’d leave her alone.

The situation escalated to the point where Baker physically assaulted Freeman on the factory floor, pushing her into the moving assembly line causing her to be struck in the head by air conditioners moving down the line and throwing a steel valve at both Freeman and Lillard who had rescued Freeman from the moving line. Baker was fired for his part in the assault and Freeman returned the next day to take an open ended leave of absence. Freeman has subsequently been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from her experiences. She has become a reclusive introvert, rarely leaving her home as a result of her ordeal.

The court stated that Whirlpool essentially did nothing about the ongoing complaints lodged by Freeman against Baker. Nixon found that every level of management in the now defunct plant failed to protect Carlotta Freeman in her place of work.

If you feel that you have been a victim of sexual harassment, please feel free to contact our office.

Author Bio

Jim Higgins, founder of the Higgins Firm, is a seasoned personal injury attorney with deep roots in Nashville, Tennessee. A 4th generation Nashvillian, Jim carries on the legal legacy of his father, a judge for over 30 years. After graduating from the University of Memphis School of Law, Jim’s career began on the other side of the courtroom, defending insurance companies and learning their tactics for minimizing settlements. However, he soon realized his true calling was fighting for the rights of the injured, and for the past several years, he has exclusively represented plaintiffs in personal injury cases.

Since then, his dedication and skill have earned him membership in the prestigious Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an organization limited to attorneys who have secured million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements for their clients. Licensed to practice in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia, Jim focuses on personal injury, product liability, medical malpractice, and workers’ compensation cases. His exceptional work has been recognized by his peers, earning him a spot on the Super Lawyers list from 2021 to 2024, a distinction awarded to only a select group of accomplished attorneys in each state.

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