Valley News -

By Jeff Pack

Report: $11M judgment handed down in Keyways sexual harassment claim


Last updated 2/17/2019 at 7:04pm

According to a report by The National Law Review, a jury awarded more than $11 million to two former employees of the now-defunct Keyways Winery in Temecula, following claims they were sexually harassed and retaliated against for complaining about the harassment.

The verdict was announced on Sept. 11, 2018.

According to the, Amber Brown, 26, and Megan Meadowcroft, 26, had complained about Keyways General Manager Carlos Pineiro to Silverton Partners and Essence Business Group, the owners and managers of Keyways.

Brown claimed that Pineiro made sexually-inappropriate comments, touched her, threatened her, was drunk while at work and threatened to hurt her if she complained. Meadowcroft said Pineiro made sexually explicit comments, took pictures of her, touched her, physically abused her and suggested job promotions in exchange for sex.

According to the plaintiffs, after complaints to ownership, they were not added to work schedules. Pineiro was fired just two weeks into his new role, but was rehired two months later.

Upon hearing of his rehiring, Brown got a temporary restraining order against Pineiro and was subsequently put on leave. Pineiro was permitted to work until the final restraining order hearing. When Brown won her complaint, she was never put back on the schedule at Keyways.

According to the reports, Meadowcroft and Brown filed a Fair Employment and Housing Act sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The trial took a little more than four weeks, but just one day for the jury to return with a verdict in September.

Brown and Meadowcroft were awarded $1.5 million each for non-economic damages, $1 million each for future economic damages, and $3 million each in punitive damages. said the verdict was levied against both Silverton and Essence as joint employers, even though Silverton argued they were not the employer and Essence Business Group, Inc. was.


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