The United States District Court for the Western District of New York recently underwent a three week racial discrimination and retaliation trial in the matter of Elijah Turley v. ISG Tackawanna, LLC, et al., and the jury returned a verdict of some $23.5 million dollars for Elijah Turley, an African American male who worked as a process operator in the “pickler department” of the ArcelorMittal Steel Mill, located in Lackawanna, New York.
Turley alleged and eventually proved that, between 2005 and 2009, his co-workers used racial slurs, calling him “King-Kong” or “gorilla.” He also contended that he was often addressed as “nigger” or “boy,” and he claimed that the terms were commonly used throughout the facility. Turley’s coworkers performed discriminatory acts as well such as putting thick black grease on Turley’s work chair, hanging a noose on Turley’s car, and threatening Turley’s life. Although Turley reported the incidences of racial discrimination to his supervisors, the harassment persisted, and Turley sought medical assistance from a psychiatrist and a psychologist to treat the mental impacts which the discriminatory remarks and behaviors were having on his well being.
After filing the lawsuit, Turley alleged that Defendants continued to discriminate against him by penalizing him for attending depositions and threatening to fire him. Additionally, Turley stated that Defendants required him to work under an employee who had admittedly covered the walls of Turley’s workspace with racially offensive graffiti.
The jury found that Turley was discriminated against and subjected to a hostile work environment, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and that ArcelorMittal Steel, as well as his supervisors, failed to properly address. It also deemed that one of Turley’s supervisors acted in an extreme and outrageous manner. The jury determined that Turley’s damages totaled $25,325,000, which includes punitive damages of $24 million.
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