As he waited for a jury finding in his lawsuit against Crystal Geyser, former employee Greg McDonald opened a fortune cookie at lunch at the Merry-Go-Round restaurant in Lone Pine, according to his lawyer, and it said, “You will have no worries about finances.” In fact, McDonald later heard from a jury that awarded him $425,000 in his suit which alleged harassment by Crystal Geyser based on his gender and race.
According to the legal complaint, Crystal Geyser had allegedly allowed employees to call McDonald names, demean him and deride him for being overweight, and use him as a verbal punching bag day in and day out.
McDonald’s attorney, Ken Fitzgerald, said that 80% of the Crystal Geyser workforce is Hispanic with a handful of caucasians. He alleged that his client, McDonald, was the subject of harassment because he is a White Male. Fitzgerald said, “This is not the Wild West. We have rights and employees have to be respected, not demeaned.” The Jury apparently agreed. In addition to the $425,000 award, lawyers privately settled on an amount for punitive damages, as directed by the Jury.
The attorney that represented Crystal Geyser, Mary Wright, did not return our phone call.
The civil trial involving this employee issue was unfolding in Superior Court at the same time Crystal Geyser officials asked for and received approval for a major bottling plant expansion next to their current plant in the Olancha-Cartago area.