In a case that involves the use of the N-word among blacks, a federal jury has rejected a black manager’ –Rob Carmona‘s – argument that it was a term of love and endearment when he aimed it at black employee.
On Tuesday the jurors awarded $30,000 in punitive damages after deeming manager’s four-minute rant hostile and discriminatory, and awarding $250,000 in compensatory damages.
The case against Carmona and the employment agency he founded, STRIVE East Harlem, touched on the double standard surrounding the n-word. Many feel it’s a slur when used by whites but is used with impunity among blacks.
Well, 38-year-old Brandi Johnson expressed to jurors that being black didn’t make the word any less hurtful when Carmona repeatedly used it towards her. She says in March of 2012, he was using the word during his rant about inappropriate workplace attire and unprofessional behavior.
Her initial complaints about his verbal abuse was ignored so she decided to tape his remarks, which pushed Johnson to run to the bathroom and cry for 45 minutes.
“I was offended. I was hurt. I felt degraded. I felt disrespected. I was embarrassed,” Johnson testified.
The jury ordered Carmona to pay $25,000 in punitive damages and STRIVE to pay $5,000.
Outside court after her victory, Johnson said she was “very happy” and rejected Carmona’s claims from the witness stand Tuesday that the verdict made him realize he needs to “take stock” of how he communicates with people he is trying to help.
“I come from a different time,” Carmona said hesitantly, wiping his eyes repeatedly with a cloth.
“So now, now you’re sorry?” Johnson said outside court, saying she doubted his sincerity and noting Carmona had refused to apologize to her in court last week. She said he should have been sorry on March 14, 2012, “the day when he told me the N-word eight times.”
“The controversy is a blemish on STRIVE, which has been heralded for helping people with troubled backgrounds get into the workforce,” reports the AP. “Its employment model, which was described in a CBS’ “60 Minutes” piece as “part boot camp, part group therapy,” claims to have helped nearly 50,000 people find work since 1984.”
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