A young woman was awarded nearly $500,000 in her sexual harassment suit against three Blaze Pizza franchises and two of her supervisors.
The Los Angeles Superior Court jury worked into the early evening Tuesday before reaching its verdicts directing LA Metro BP Holding Co. LLC and Rolling Hills BP to pay plaintiff Vilma Aguilar $347,000 in compensatory damages and another $60,000 in punitive damages. She sued the franchises and her bosses, brothers Maurice and Daniel Driz, in February 2017.
The panel also directed Daniel Driz to pay Aguilar $85,000 in punitive damages.
Aguilar testified she began working for the franchises in July 2013 when she was 16 years old at two stores in Torrance and that she rose to be a general manager at one of those locations by age 18.
Aguilar told jurors she was subjected to inappropriate comments and touching by her bosses, leaving her feeling belittled and degraded. She said that she was told by another supervisor in 2015 that she was being transferred to the Blaze Pizza store at the Farmers Market, more than 20 miles from her home, after she complained.
The Torrance store where she last worked was two miles from her residence, but she said she was told that she had become too close to the employees who worked for her there, she said.
After Aguilar protested the transfer, she was told to accept the new location or resign, she said.
“I had no choice, I had to quit,” she testified.
Aguilar admitted she made some mistakes on the job and said she accepted responsibility for those errors.
In April, Aguilar received $8,000 in the settlement of a class-action lawsuit she and other employees filed against Blaze Pizza LLC and multiple franchises.