Jurors will consider Tuesday whether to award punitive damages in a lawsuit brought by a worker who accused her boss of going on an N-word-laced rant against her.
The federal jury already rejected the argument last week that use of the N-word among African-Americans — both the plaintiff and her boss are black — can be a culturally acceptable term of love or endearment, and ruled that use of the racial slur in the workplace is hostile and discriminatory no matter what. They awarded $250,000 in compensatory damages to the worker, the Associated Press reports.
The case in a New York courtroom has highlighted what some see as a double standard in the use of the word among black and non-black communities. In the lawsuit, 38-year-old Brandi Johnson, an employment agency worker, testified that being black didn’t make it any less hurtful to be the target of what her attorney called boss Rob Carmona’s “four-minute n—– tirade” about inappropriate workplace attire and unprofessional behavior.
“I was offended. I was hurt. I felt degraded. I felt disrespected. I was embarrassed,” Johnson testified. After the tirade, she said she fled to the restroom and cried for 45 minutes.
In his testimony, Carmona defended his use of the word. He said he used it with Johnson to express that she was “too emotional, wrapped up in her, at least the negative aspects of human nature.” He said the word has “multiple contexts” in the black and Latino communities.