Robin Europa, a black personal trainer, was hired by luxury gym Equinox in 2018 and quickly promoted to oversee a group of 15 employees. But she soon claimed that a white employee created a “toxic atmosphere” by repeatedly making vulgar comments about a black woman’s body and objecting to her being her boss.
European employment did not last long. Less than a year after she joined at Equinox, she was fired. And the reason for her dismissal was at the core of her 2020 lawsuit.
She was subjected to racial and gender discrimination, claiming she lost her job after Equinox retaliated against her for denouncing racism and sexism at the club. Jim’s side claimed she was fired for being late 47 times in her 11 months with the company. Last year, a judge dismissed her retaliation claim, but the case continued, focusing on issues of her racial and gender bias.
Earlier this month, a jury of five women and three men favored the European side, awarding her $11.25 million in damages, but the verdict also included $10 million in punitive damages against Jim. Includes dollars.
Millions of employees face toxic workplaces that can degrade employee performance and affect their personal lives. according to To Harvard Business Review. Her experience with Equinox allegedly demoralized her, caused her “significant emotional distress” and exacerbated her bulimia, according to her European lawsuit.
“The jury has sent a loud message to Equinox that there are serious consequences for companies that allow racist and sexist behavior in the workplace,” said European attorney Susan Crumiller. . statement.
“We are also pleased that the jury determined that Equinox’s racism had a serious and lasting effect on Robin’s mental health and that she deserves compensation for it,” it added. .
After the jury’s verdict, the judge ordered both sides to meet with a magistrate to discuss a settlement.
In an emailed statement to CBS Moneywatch, Equinox said it does not tolerate discrimination “in any form.”
The newspaper said, “This is a case of dismissal for performance reasons related to attendance and nothing more.” Equinox added: ”[W]We strongly disagree with the jury’s decision and the unfair and excessive ruling, and have filed a motion asking the judge to reverse the jury’s decision. ”
Equinox, known as Tony Jim, has over 100 stores in cities from New York City to San Francisco. Memberships, with facilities like “eucalyptus steam rooms” and premium juice bars, can cost hundreds of dollars a month.
Europe worked at an Equinox store on East 92nd Street in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, the same location as the employee who allegedly uttered racist and sexist language. She said that Europe had filed a complaint with the company about his remarks, but according to her complaint, “they did not address and resolve those issues [Europe] for retaliation. ”
Retaliation reportedly took the form of being accused of being late. Europe did not deny that she was late, but noted that other workers frequently did the same and she was not reprimanded. Her lawsuit alleges that she “never was late for training appointments with her clients, never made clients wait, and regularly stayed for more than an hour after work, regardless of arrival time.” I did,” he claimed.
The man, who allegedly made sexist and racist remarks, was one of those who “went into work regularly well past their official opening hours without being affected.” The lawsuit also alleges that employees “often left early without being affected.”
This led Europe to believe that she was “selected to selectively enforce attendance management policies in retaliation for engaging in legally protected activities,” the complaint alleges. there is
Equinox allegedly fired her, citing her lateness, just months after she filed a complaint about the club’s toxic working conditions.
The trial included “swipe-in data” from other Equinox employees, including attendance and attendance records of other managers, even though she was the only employee to be reprimanded. was worse than in Europe, her lawyer said. said.
In addition to punitive damages of $10 million, the jury awarded Europe $1.25 million in compensatory damages and $16,000 in economic damages for unpaid balances.