By Emily Wagster Petrus, The Associated Press
A Mississippi jury has awarded a total of more than $3 million to five African-American strippers after a federal judge found the women worked under worse conditions than their White colleagues.
U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate ruled in the discrimination case last year. After a trial that lasted nearly a week on the question of damages, jurors decided May15 that the women would split $3.3 million for back pay and past and future suffering.
The attorney for Danny’s Downtown Cabaret, Bill Walter, said May 17 he will ask Wingate to reduce the award. If Wingate disagrees, Walter said he would appeal.
“Obviously, the client is disappointed in the verdict,” Walter said.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Danny’s years ago, saying the Jackson club limited when Black women could work and fined them $25 if they didn’t show up for a shift. The commission said White strippers had flexible schedules at the club and were not subjected to fines for missing work.
It also said a Danny’s manager used racial slurs against a Black dancer, and Danny’s owners forced Black women to work at another Jackson club they owned called Black Diamonds, where conditions and security were worse and dancers were paid less.
Marsha Rucker, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Birmingham, Ala., said in a statement that the commission “will protect employees in any industry who are subjected to such blatant and repeated discrimination.”
“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,” Rucker said. “The jury … sent a powerful message to Danny’s and any employer who thinks they are above the law.”