A New York City woman who admitted she showed up to work late dozens of times in less than a year has been awarded millions of dollars by a jury after she successfully argued in court she was terminated because she is black.
Jurors in the case did not view dozens of instances of tardiness as a reason for separation from the company.
The New York Times reported a woman named Röbynn Europe sued a company called Equinox, which operates a number of high-end fitness brands and gyms.
Europe alleged after she was fired from her job on New York City’s Upper East Side that her 10 months with the company left her feeling targeted over her skin color.
In a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court, she argued she had been subjected to a hostile work environment.
Equinox has been ordered to pay up after losing a race and gender discrimination lawsuit. https://t.co/uACdb20Xkp
— Black Enterprise (@blackenterprise) May 27, 2023
The woman said her issues were not just with Equinox but that the coastal fitness industry is prejudicial.
“Racism and sexism — they are just pervasive in the fitness industry,” she said, per the Times.
During the civil trial, she lodged a series of complaints about one of her white subordinates, who was reported to be a man in his forties.
Europ claimed the man used the word “lazy” to describe people he did not view as hard workers.
He also once allegedly questioned if a black colleague might be “autistic,” the report states.
Europe also told the court that the man once asked her to help him court a black woman he was interested in dating.
She said that his attempts to enlist her in helping him get a date left her feeling offended.
Equinox defended itself from accusations of racism during the trial and said Europe was simply let go for being late 47 times.
The plaintiff did not dispute her attendance record at work but argued the company ultimately sacked her over her skin color.
A New York jury of five women and three men, most of whom were white, agreed with her and ordered her former employer to pay her more than $11 million — $10 million in punitive damages and an additional $1.25 million to compensate her for her distress.
Europe also said being fired contributed to the worsening of an eating disorder she had already struggling with.
Equinox said it does not tolerate discrimination in any form and said jurors bought into the “sympathy and emotion” Europe brought to the trial. Attorneys intend to challenge the damages assessed.
The company also called the ruling “extreme” and “unconscionable.”
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