A Black gym employee says she was fired for calling out racism. A jury has awarded her $11.3 million.
Röbynn Europe, a black personal trainer, was quickly promoted to oversee a group of 15 employees after she was hired by the upscale Equinox gym in 2018. But soon, she alleged, a white employee created a “toxic environment” by repeatedly making lewd comments about black women’s bodies as well as objecting to her being the boss.
Europe’s occupation did not last long. Less than a year after starting at Equinox, he was fired — and the reason for the firing was at the root of a lawsuit he filed in 2020. He claims he lost his job because Equinox retaliated against him for calling out racism and sexism at the club. While Jim claims he was fired for being late 47 times during his 11 months at the company.
Earlier this month, a jury of five women and three men sided with Europe, awarding him $11.25 million in damages, according to court records, including a $10 million penalty against the gym.
Millions of employees face toxic workplaces, which can reduce employee performance and affect a worker’s personal life. According to For Harvard Business Review. According to Europe’s lawsuit, her experiences at Equinox allegedly disillusioned her, caused her “substantial emotional distress” and exacerbated her bulimia.
“The jury sent a loud message to Equinox that there are serious consequences for corporations that allow racist and sexist behavior in the workplace,” Susan Krommler, Europe’s lawyer, said in a statement. Statement
“We are also pleased that the jury found that Equinox’s racism had a severe and lasting impact on Robin’s mental health and that she deserves compensation for that,” she added.
Following the jury’s award, the judge ordered both parties to meet with a magistrate judge to discuss a settlement.
In a statement emailed to CBS MoneyWatch, Equinox said it does not tolerate discrimination “in any form.”
“It’s a matter of eliminating performance related to attendance, and nothing more,” he noted. Equinox added, “[W]”We strongly disagree with the jury’s finding, as well as the unfair and excessive award, and have filed a motion seeking to vacate the jury’s verdict.”
Equinox is known as a tony gym, with more than 100 locations in cities from New York City to San Francisco. Memberships can cost several hundred dollars a month, with amenities like “Eucalyptus Steam Rooms” and high-end juice bars.
Europe worked at the Equinox location on East 92nd Street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, the same location as the employee who allegedly made racist and sexist language. Europe complained to the company about his remarks, but, its lawsuit alleges, “Instead of addressing and resolving these issues, they targeted. [Europe] for reprisals.”
The retaliatory action was allegedly delayed. Europe did not deny that she was late, but noted that other workers often did the same and were not reprimanded. Her lawsuit claimed that she “never was late for a training appointment with a client, never waited for a client, and regularly arrived an hour or more before the end of her shift. would stay, regardless of what time she arrived.”
The man who allegedly made the sexist and racist comments was among those who “regularly arrived at work after their official start times without consequence.” The lawsuit also claimed that the employee “often left work early without any reaction.”
This led Europe to believe that it was “being coerced into choosing time and attendance policies in lieu of engaging in legally protected activities”.
A few months after she complained about the club’s toxic work environment, Equinox fired her, citing her tardiness, the suit says.
The lawsuit included “swipe-in data” from other Equinox workers showing that other managers had worse time and attendance records than Europe, even though she was the only worker disciplined, her The lawyer said.
In addition to $10 million in punitive damages, the jury awarded Europe $1.25 million in compensatory damages and $16,000 in economic damages.