KFC cashier wins $1.7 million judgment in sex harassment case


By Mark Niesse

September 10, 2012
 
Lisa Millican believes her client will be able to collect at least a portion of the $1.7 million judgment.
John Disney, Daily Report

A KFC cashier who sued her boss for sexual harassment has won a $1.7 million judgment after her employer didn’t mount a defense or hire an attorney.

The plaintiff, a woman in her early 20s named Amanda Bishop, said in her lawsuit that store manager Abdul Rahim Mamdani repeatedly grabbed her, asked her about her sex life, commented on her breasts, offered to loan her money in return for sexual favors and told her that submission to his advances was a condition of employment.

The full amount requested by the plaintiff was granted without a jury trial by Judge Elliott Shoenthal, a juvenile court judge who was sitting for DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Gail Flake. He entered an order for final judgment July 30 in what amounts to a default judgment because the defendant didn’t make an argument, said plaintiffs attorney Lisa Millican.

Millican said she believes she’ll be able to partially collect the judgment, although she’s not sure how much money Mamdani has. Mamdani filed for bankruptcy in November 2009, but the case was closed six months later without any property or money distributed, according to federal court records.

“They feigned bankruptcy, hoping that we would just go away, and then they dismissed the bankruptcy when nobody was looking,” said Millican, of Greenfield Millican. “They did it in hopes we would not pursue the case.”

Millican said she believes Mamdani likely has some money because he was seen with a BMW and paid lawyers for the bankruptcy filing and to contest a complaint before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that preceded the lawsuit.

Mamdani’s lack of a lawyer in his defense likely contributed to the large award, said Leon Spencer Gandy Jr., who defended Mamdani in the EEOC case.

“That’s what happens when you don’t have representation,” Gandy said. “That’s a pile of money for that.”

Mamdani didn’t return a phone message to a number associated with his listed address in Snellville. The phone number for the KFC he operated in Decatur has been disconnected. His attorney in the bankruptcy filing, Daniel Raskin, couldn’t be reached.

Bishop is “thrilled” with the outcome of the case, even though the prospects for collecting on the judgment are uncertain, Millican said.

 “I’m not terribly concerned. Will we recover all of it? I’m not sure, but we do anticipate collecting,” Millican said. “Even if she doesn’t recover, she got her day in court. Obviously it will make it even better when she does recover the judgment.”

The harassment of Bishop began in January 2009, when Mamdani’s frequent comments and unsolicited “improper touchings” created a hostile working environment, according to Bishop’s complaint. It said the harassment lasted until June 22, 2009, when Bishop was fired in retaliation for her complaint of sexual harassment and because she spurred Mamdani’s sexual advances.

Bishop always rejected Mamdani’s advances and complained about them, but no investigation was performed even though there were other victims who also worked at the restaurant, Millican said.

Bishop had evidence of Mamdani admitting to his misconduct, which she recorded from a phone call with him, Millican said.

“She went in and got audio recordings of him apologizing for grabbing her breasts. He was saying, ‘I’m sorry, I won’t do it again, I thought you liked it,’ as he continued to sexually harass her,” Millican said.

If there had been a trial, Millican would have called a male employee and three other female employees who witnessed the harassment, two of whom said they also were harassed by Mamdani.

After Mamdani appeared in Shoenthal’s court July 16 and said he didn’t have any evidence to present, Shoenthal accepted proffer statements and damages claims, and then he ruled from the bench based on the uncontested facts as presented, Millican said.

Bishop was awarded $1,184,500 for punitive damages, $236,900 for pain and suffering, $45,360 for attorney fees, $7,540 for lost wages, $2,003 for litigation expenses and $260,375 for prejudgment interest, for a total judgment of $1,736,678.

The pain and suffering amount was calculated by charging $1,000 per day for each day the harassment occurred for more than five months, and adding $100 per day for every day since then, Millican said. The punitives were five times the amount of the pain and suffering damages.

Bishop initially filed her complaint before the EEOC shortly after losing her job.

The EEOC issued a right to sue letter in December 2010 without making a determination on the facts, and the lawsuit was filed later that month. Millican said she sought the right to sue letter before the statute of limitations ran out on filing suit.

KFC U.S. Properties Inc., a division of Yum Brands, was originally named as a defendant but the company was dismissed after Millican learned it didn’t provide any human resources support to Mamdani’s franchise, which did business as Metro Food Services Inc.

The Decatur location that Mamdani managed was closed in 2009, and he doesn’t operate any other KFC locations, said Rick Maynard of KFC Corp.

Metro Food Services was administratively dissolved Aug. 27, 2011, by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp after the company failed to file its annual registration, according to state business records.

The case was Bishop v. Mamdani, 10CV14092. The bankruptcy case, in the Northern District of Georgia, was No. 09-90221.

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