A federal court jury in Mississippi has sided with five African-American exotic dancers who said they were treated differently than their white colleagues by the management of a night club in Jackson, Miss.
The lawsuit, which was brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claimed that Danny’s Downtown Cabaret avoided using the black dancers whenever possible, used racially offensive epithets with them and fined them $25 for missing a shift. The white dancers reportedly had flexibility in their schedules, and didn’t have to pay a no-show fee.
The discrimination had been happening for at least eight years, according to a press release by the EEOC.
Besides their scheduling abuse, both Danny’s, and its predecessor, Baby O’s Restaurant, forced the dancers to work at a related club, Black Diamonds, where the pay and working conditions were worse. If they refused, they were fined and sent home, and not allowed to work at Denny’s.
On Wednesday, in a trial that lasted nearly a week, jurors agreed that the women would split $3.3 million for back pay and past and future suffering, the Associated Press reported.
The verdicts includes $1.5 million in punitive damages $1.68 million in compensatory damages, and $130,550 in back-pay.
Friday, the attorney for Danny’s Downtown Cabaret, Bill Walter, said Friday he will ask U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate to reduce the award, but plans to appeal if Wingate disagrees.
“This case shows the EEOC will sue any employer, operating any type of business, who violates federal anti-discrimination laws, especially those who will not stop discriminating even after being given repeated chances to do so, Marsha Rucker, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Birmingham, said in a statement. “The EEOC will protect employees in any industry who are subjected to such blatant and repeated discrimination. The jury yesterday sent a powerful message to Danny’s and any employer who thinks they are above the law.”