Mid-Michigan woman wins lawsuit against Dow Chemical
(06/11/15) - A Mid-Michigan woman has won a lawsuit against the largest chemical company in the world, and now, we've learned how much money she is getting for her trouble.
Kim Hartman says she was fired for taking time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act while she worked at Dow Chemical. She worked in the legal department at Dow, and a jury has ruled what the company did to her - wasn't legal.
Hartman says she had no problem getting permission to take time off work in 2013, but during that down time, she says co-workers conspired to get rid of her.
"I actually suffer from a condition called psoriatic arthritis," Hartman said.
That's why Hartman needed shoulder surgery and 12 weeks off from her job in Dow's legal department. She returned to work, but just a few weeks later, two Dow Chemical supervisors called her to a meeting.
"They were accusing me of time-card fraud," Hartman said. "I was floored."
Then she was fired.
Hartman hired attorney Victor Mastromarco Jr., who says while she was on leave, a plot developed within the Dow legal department to have her fired.
"They were upset that she gives her notice that she is going to take her FMLA leave and it's going to take the entire summer," Mastromarco said.
The trial began earlier this year.
"There were all these emails back in forth and we even found they even changed emails significantly," Mastromarco said.
Mastromarco says they felt confident when jurors began deliberations, and felt even better when they sent a note to the judge asking for a calculator.
"The jury got it," Mastromarco said.
In the end, Dow was ordered to pay more than $330,000. Hartman says the money wasn't the most important part of the verdict.
"I felt vindicated, and I felt like I accomplished what I really wanted, I got my name back," Hartman said.
Earlier this year, Dow Chemical settled a whistleblower lawsuit with Kimberly Wood, a woman who exposed inappropriate spending by CEO Andrew Liveris and claimed she was too was forced out of her job.
We asked Hartman if the two cases show a pattern of deceit by Dow when the company wants to remove certain workers.
"I certainly wouldn't discard that thought," she said. "I think it's a possibility."
We reached out to Dow Chemical for comment on this story, but did not get a response.