Domino Sugar Refinery Hit With $2.35M Jury Award for Racial Bias
American Sugar Refining Inc. was hit with a $2.35 million jury verdict for racial bias against an employee in its Yonkers location, less than two months after a separate jury hit the company with a $13.4 million verdict for sex discrimination.
After a trial in April 2018, a jury found that Clause Lewis, a black employee, was mistreated and subjected to a hostile work environment because of his race. The jury also found that the company, who produces Domino Sugar, violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New York Human Rights Law. The attorney for Lewis commented, “The jury is sending a very loud and very strong message to managers and supervisors and human resource professionals that they can’t avoid claims of discrimination in the workplace.”
According to the lawsuit, Lewis alleged he suffered abuse from a manager of Guyanese descent who made disparaging comments about black people and gave preferential treatment to Guyanese employees. Lewis claimed that he noticed Caucasian employees were treated better than black employees soon after joining the company in 1988. Lewis also alleged he was denied a meeting with human resources to discuss the manager’s behavior in 2011 and was told that a meeting “wasn’t going to do any good.”
American Sugar argued in a January 2017 motion to dismiss the case that Lewis’ claims were unsubstantiated and that he didn’t show that the company or the manager acted with discriminatory intent. The company said Lewis failed to demonstrate that his work conditions were negatively altered because of his race.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin and allows for the recovery of compensatory and punitive damages in the case of intentional violations. The New York City Human Rights Law and the New York State Human Rights Law provide similar protection to workers against unlawful harassment.
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