Race discrimination cases don’t get much more egregious than this – and monetary awards don’t get much higher, either.
A federal court jury awarded African-American Elijah Turley $25 million in damages for race discrimination that he suffered as a processor operator at ArcelorMittal Steel in Lackawanna, N.Y
All told, Turley worked for the company, part of a global steel corporation based out of Luxembourg, for 14 years.
But it was the race discrimination he endured from 2005 to 2008 that “left him a physical and emotional wreck and forever changed his life.”
Turley said that he:
- found a stuffed monkey with a noose around its neck hanging from his driver’s side mirror
- discovered “KKK” and “King Kong” graffiti on the walls, and
- endured repeated racial slurs, including “monkey” and “boy” from co-workers.
During the three-week trial, the company didn’t dispute that the incidents happened. Instead, it argued that the occurrences were similar to other kinds of “trash talking” that goes on at manufacturing facilities.
It also pointed to the steps it took to stop the bias — the company suspended employees who taunted Turley, hired a private investigator and installed security cameras.
But that wasn’t enough to sway the jury, which unanimously ruled in favor of Turley. It found that the firm allowed a hostile work environment to exist and that it intentionally inflicted emotional distress on him.
ArcelorMittal is liable for everything but a small percentage of the $25 million award.
And of that $25 million award, a majority of it is punitive damages.