How important is it for an employer to enforce policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment in the workplace? Extremely important. The most current data from Jury Verdict Research, Horsham, Pa., points out that the median jury award for such claims jumped from less than $65,000 in 1996 to $250,000 in 1997 -- an increase of more than 300%. What's more, there is apparently greater sympathy among jury members for plaintiffs involved in such cases. In 1992 only one-third of plaintiffs were successful in winning such cases compared with 58% in 1997. The study also found that between 1994 and 1997, punitive damages were awarded 21% of the time in employment disputes or cases of employer negligence. That's more than in any other type of lawsuit.