Rite Aid of Maryland Inc. has lost its request to appeal damages awarded by a Baltimore City Court to four former employes who were discharged for refusing to take a polygraph test.
In a ruling Monday, the Maryland Court of Appeals also denied three of the four former employes the right to appeal the reversal of their claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The three employes were originally awarded $3.6 million in damages in 1984. They must now go back to court to determine the appropriate amount of damages after the Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld the charge of abusive discharge but struck down the charge of intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The original award to the three employes by the Baltimore Circuit Court jury totaled $5 million, with $4 million of the sum to punish Rite Aid for its "extreme and outrageous conduct."
Rite Aid Corp., the drugstore chain based in Harrisburg, Pa., that operates 101 stores in Maryland, had no comment on the court action.
Marguerite Cook, the fourth employe who was awarded $1.3 million in damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress and abusive discharge from her job, said she was pleased by the decision. The Appeals Court's action upholds her judgment.
The State of Maryland allows employers to ask employes to take a polygraph test but prohibits an employer from denying employment or a promotion to job applicants or employes who refuse to take the test. Employers also may not fire an employe for refusing to take the test.
The four employes were never suspected of wrongdoing but had been asked to take the tests after shortages were discovered in store inventory. Cook, an assistant manager of a Maryland Rite Aid drugstore who refused to take the test, said she was harassed, given shorter hours and transferred to a store far from home until she quit.