Last week, a Manhattan jury awarded $11.25 million to 39-year-old Röbynn Europe, a black woman who sued her former employer, Equinox gym, saying she was unjustly fired for sexism and racism.
Equinox says she was fired for being late 47 times over 10 months, a fact that Europe acknowledged as true.
According to the New York Times, Europe believed “her lateness was merely a pretext for discrimination.”
According to the New York Times, as a teen Europe had “experienced the coded bias of privileged teenagers” because she attended the elite New York all-girls school Brearley on scholarship.
After her teenage years, Europe spent time as a professional body-builder, then studied art at Oberlin College, and then worked at David Barton gym in their office to help back an apprenticeship in tattooing. Europe eventually woound up at Equinox in 2018 where she worked for less than a year.
According to the New York Times, Europe had acknowledged that the management make up was mostly male and white and while at Equinox, Europe experienced “unfiltered expressions of prejudice from male colleagues” such as one “middle-aged white male” who, according to Europe, said one black co-worker had autism and that several non-white employees were “lazy.”
Europe alleged that the same man, who also had “vulgar takes on black female bodies,” commanded she hang with him outside the gym in one circumstance because he desired to flirt with a black woman at a cafe. Europe said it was “on the theory that he would be better positioned with a Black person standing next to him.”
Europe said she “refused to be a racial pawn.”
Europe also remembered how one client called and categorically asked for a white trainer. She did not mention to the client directly but said she heard about the demand from another employee. According to Europe, she told the employee that such a request revealed the company to liability and she had to pass the desire along to a supervisor. The New York Times reported that a supervisor eventually accepted the client’s request for a white trainer, but was later disciplined and let go.
Europe said these incidents were so upsetting that it made her bulimia worse, so she went to the law firm Crumiller, a “feminist litigation firm” as they describe themselves.
Eventually, Europe was awarded $1.25 million for distress and $10 million in punitive damages.
According to the New York Times, the verdict follows “a pattern similar to the verdict reached in the same courthouse just a few weeks before, in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation suit against Donald J. Trump” as “In both instances, the process and outcome suggest the ways in which recent transformative social movements around race and gender might reframe the way that juries think about the long shadow of emotional disruption that bigotry or sexual violence can produce.”
Rather than “engag[ing] in the current fashion for self-reproach and vow[ing] to do better,” Equinox instead “vehemently disagreed” and filed a motion for the court to reconsider its decision, per the New York Times.
Robynn Europe: Equinox is ordered to pay fired worker $11.25 MILLION after professional body builder claimed dismissal was racially motivated – and not because she was LATE for work 47 times in less than a year 🤨 ⏰💰Daily Mail Online https://t.co/ZdUl4fr7yw
— CyberChick (@warriors_mom) May 27, 2023
You get what you deserve for keeping your business in NYC. The precedent has been set, get ready for more lawsuits.
— Matthew Bendett (@matthewbendett) May 27, 2023