BANGOR, Maine — A federal jury Wednesday awarded more than $100,000 in damages to a Frankfort woman who claimed she was illegally fired 18 months ago from a Bangor beauty salon.
Valerie Peasley, 54, was awarded $40,000 in compensatory damages and $80,000 in punitive damages, according to information on the court’s electronic case filing system.
Peasley worked at Master Cuts, owned by Minnesota firm Regis Corp., in the Bangor Mall, and she testified Monday that she went to the regional manager to report that some stylists were smoking marijuana during breaks and returning to work, trading haircuts for clean urine specimens and pocketing the money customers had paid for services rather than putting it in the register.
Peasley’s Portland attorney, Chad Hansen, said the evidence showed that Peasley was fired in retaliation for telling management about the activities of some of her fellow stylists.
Cynthia Dill of Portland, Regis’ attorney, told the jury in her opening statement Monday that Peasley was fired after violating company policy by giving family members free haircuts without manager approval.
Peasley, who now works in a Belfast barber shop, worked for Regis for more than a decade.
The jury of seven women and two men deliberated for three hours, according to Hansen.
Jurors found by a preponderance of the evidence that Regis had retaliated against Peasley when a manager fired her Feb. 14, 2013. The jury found that the company had not committed age discrimination when it fired her.
“She’s happy,” Hansen said Wednesday of his client’s reaction to the verdict. “She’s a good employee who saw things she believed to be illegal that she reported to a supervisor, and three weeks later, she was fired. She feels vindicated.”
“Regis Corporation values its Maine customers and employees and appreciates the work of the jury,” Dill said after the verdict in an email. “We disagree with the decision, however, and will be exploring all options going forward.”
Hansen said that a hearing would be scheduled at a later date to determine the amount of back pay and benefits Peasley would receive.