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Sex harassment award $95 million

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill., June 14 (UPI) -- An Illinois federal court jury awarded $95 million to a former employee in a sexual harassment case against her former supervisor, a court said.

Ashley Alford, who is in her 20s, worked as a customer service representative at rent-to-own Aaron's Inc. in Fairview Heights, Ill. In her lawsuit filed in 2008, she charged she had been sexually assaulted by her boss, the store's former general manager, after nearly a year of constant harassment involving dirty jokes and "lewd propositions," The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

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The supervisor was arrested later the day of the assault and is awaiting trial.

The U.S. District Court jury in East St. Louis last week awarded Alford $95 million -- $15 million in compensatory damages and $80 million in punitive damages -- but a cap on damages in federal sexual harassment cases will reduce the award to $41.5 million, the newspaper said.

"From what we can tell, this is the absolute largest sex harassment verdict in the country for an individual plaintiff," David Ratner, Alford's lawyer, told the Post-Dispatch.

Aaron's Inc. said it would appeal the verdict.

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