In a landmark decision, a jury recently ruled in favor of Röbynn Europe, a Black personal trainer. In her discrimination lawsuit against high-end gym Equinox, Europe alleged that she faced racial and gender discrimination and that she was fired in retaliation for calling out racism and sexism within the company.
She Was Quickly Promoted
After being hired by Equinox in 2018, Europe quickly rose to a supervisory role overseeing a group of employees.
Her Coworker Made Racist Comments
However, she soon found herself in a toxic environment where a White employee repeatedly made vulgar comments about Black women’s bodies and objected to having a Black woman as his boss.
She Reported but No Actions Were Made
Europe reported the discriminatory behavior to the company, but instead of addressing the issue, she claims she faced retaliation.
She Was Fired
Equinox fired her in less than a year, citing that she was late 47 times in the course of 10 months.
Others Were Not
However, Europe argued that other employees arrived late without facing the same consequences.
She Filed a Lawsuit
Europe’s lawsuit argued that she was selectively targeted. The trial revealed evidence that other managers had worse time and attendance records, yet only Europe faced disciplinary action.
A Victim of Discriminatory Treatment
These discrepancies led Europe to believe that she was a victim of discriminatory treatment within the company.
The Evidence and Jury Sided With Her
Following the trial, a jury consisting of five women and three men sided with Europe, awarding her $11.25 million in damages.
A Strong Message to Racism and Sexism
This significant amount includes $10 million in punitive damages. The trial outcome sends a strong message to Equinox and other corporations regarding the consequences of allowing racism and sexism to persist in the workplace.
A Lasting Impact on Her Mental Health
Europe’s attorney, Susan Crumiller, emphasized that the jury recognized the severe and lasting impact of Equinox’s racism on her client’s mental health, highlighting the need for compensation.
The Company Gave Their Reasons
Equinox responded to the verdict by stating that the termination was solely based on performance-related issues, particularly attendance. The gym vehemently disagreed with the jury’s finding, characterizing the award as unjust and excessive.
Equinox filed a motion seeking to overturn the decision. The judge subsequently ordered both parties to engage in settlement discussions mediated by a magistrate judge.
The Company Failed to Address Racism
Equinox, renowned for its upscale gyms in major cities across the United States, including New York City and San Francisco, asserts they have a zero-tolerance policy towards discrimination in any form.
However, Europe’s case has shed light on the alleged failure of the company to address and rectify instances of racism and sexism within its ranks.
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