A New York jury returned a $25 million verdict last month in a racial discrimination lawsuit. Elijah Turley, a longtime employee at a steel plant, says he still remembers the stuffed monkey with a noose around its neck found hanging from his driver’s side mirror. He also remembers the “KKK” and “King Kong” graffiti on the walls of the Lackawanna steel plant where he worked for 14 years. And if that wasn’t bad enough, there were the racial slurs from co-workers. The federal court jury awarded Turley $25 million in damages after finding his former employers and their executives liable for a culture of racial discrimination that one of his lawyers said was reminiscent of the 1950s. Mr. Turley’s lawyer told the jurors in his closing argument:
It’s absolutely shocking that a case like this is in court in 2012. It should be viewed as atrocious and intolerable in a civilized society. This case is about the breakdown of a man. He wanted to be treated equally, treated equally in a culture that hadn’t changed since the ’50s.
The jury’s unanimous decision followed a three-week trial at which Turley, an African-American, testified about a series of incidents during his time working at the former ArcelorMittal Steel plant in Lackawanna. Turley, a processor operator in the plant’s pickler department, testified that the incidents from 2005 to 2008 left him a physical and emotional wreck and forever changed his life.
The jury found ArcelorMittal liable for allowing a “hostile work environment” to exist and for the “intentional infliction of emotional distress.” Production at ArcelorMittal’s plant in Lackawanna ended in 2009, but the company continues to operate dozens of other plants across the country. Ryan J. Mills, a lawyer with Brown & Keely, a law firm located in Buffalo, N.Y., represented Mr. Turley and he did a very good job in this case.
Source: Buffalo News
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