The Monterey County Herald
Wednesday, February 12, 1997

Jury gives $450,000 to fired executive

A former CTB/McGraw-Hill executive in Monterey who was fired from her $125,000 a year job was awarded $450,000 by a federal court jury for wrongful termination.

The jury of three men and five women in federal district court in San Jose also ruled the former Macmillian/McGraw Hill School Publishing Co. acted in bad faith when Judith Ann Hill, 41, was fired on June 10, 1993, from her position as vice president of finance.

In her lawsuit, Hill said that Peter Jovanovich, president and chief executive officer of what is now McGraw Hill School Publishing Co., owned by The McGraw-Hill Companies, flew to Monterey from corporate headquarters in New York to personally fire her after she complained of being sexually harassed by him.

Jovanovich told Hill at one point that "he wanted her to be his moll," said Novato attorney Nancy Krop, who represented Hill.

When Hill protested, "basically" that was the end of her career" with the company, Krop said.

Hill had also accused the company of sex discrimination and Jovanovich with sexual harassment in her lawsuit, but the jury ruled against her on those points, said company spokesman Steve Weiss.

The $450,000 judgment against the company, which later in 1993 became The McGraw-Hill Companies, was the maximum award allowed, Krop said.

"I think the company had to learn you treat people more humanely," Krop said yesterday.

Weiss said the jury award was likely the result of the company's failure to give Hill written warning that her job was in jeopardy before firing her.

Even so, "We do believe that we have a very valid basis for appealing the jury's decision," Weiss said. He added that the company hasn't decided whether to appeal.

Hill, the mother of two college-aged daughters, began her career as a $17,500 senior accountant and rose in 11 years to become the chief financial officer of the company's CTB division in Monterey, earning $125,000 a year, Krop said.