It doesn’t look so good if you are the defendant.
Last week, a Mississippi federal court jury concluded that a strip club in Mississippi had discriminated against five black dancers. In total, the jury awarded the women $1.5 million in punitive damages, $1.68 million in compensatory damages, and $130,550 in backpay.
Here is a copy of the jury award.
So, what got the jury so ticked off at this employer?
According to the EEOC, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the employees, the club “subjected black dancers to discriminatory terms and conditions of employment for years, including limiting the number of shifts black dancers could work, and subjecting them to racially offensive epithets.” Allegedly, the defendant also forced these women to work at a related club, with inferior working conditions and less security.
The jury verdict capped at least eight years of efforts by the EEOC, which included two EEOC charges, three prior lawsuits and contempt proceedings, and three consent decrees.
The takeaway here, as the EEOC accurately captured in its press release, is that federal anti-discrimination law protects employees in any industry who are subjected to blatant and repeated discrimination. A jury may send a powerful message to any employer who thinks it is above the law.