Tuesday, September 3, 2013
A New York jury has awarded $30,000 in punitive damages to a black woman who sued her black ex-boss after he unleashed an N-word tirade at her last year.
Brandi Johnson said she was happy after the Manhattan federal jury concluded Tuesday that Rob Carmona must pay $25,000 and his organization Strive East Harlem must pay another $5,000.
Those awards are in addition to $250,000 in compensatory damages that the jury awarded Johnson last week. Carmona wiped his eyes with a towel and appeared emotional as he testified Tuesday. He said he learned his lesson that he must communicate differently than in the past.
Johnson's defense attorney accused him of crying "ghost tears" and urged jurors to award additional damages to show him that "calling somebody the N-word is a very serious thing."
A New York City federal jury has rejected the argument that use of the N-word among blacks can be a culturally acceptable term of love and endearment, deciding its use in the workplace is hostile and discriminatory.
Jurors last week awarded $250,000 in compensatory damages to a black employment agency worker who was the target of an N-word-laced rant by her black boss. They return Tuesday to decide on punitive damages.
The case against Rob Carmona and the employment agency STRIVE East Harlem gave legal airing to the complex debate about blacks' use of the word.
Former employee Brandi Johnson told jurors that Carmona's 2012 tirade made her feel offended, hurt and degraded.
Carmona told jurors that among blacks, the word is often used as a term of affection.