A US federal jury has awarded $25million in damages to a steel plant employee who says his bosses at Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal failed to stop years of racial taunts and insults from co-workers.Elijah Turley, an African-American, had testified in a three-week trial that racial slurs and other incidents from 2005 to 2008 at a Lackawanna, New York steel plant left him a broken man.
The payout was intended to either punish the company or deter it from engaging in similar conduct, the court heard.
“It’s absolutely shocking that a case like this is in court in 2012,” Truley’s lawyer, Ryan Mills, said in his closing argument. “It should be viewed as atrocious and intolerable in a civilized society.”
Mills told the jury: ‘This case is about the breakdown of a man. He wanted to be treated equally, treated equally in a culture that hadn’t changed since the 1950s.’
An eight-member jury unanimously found Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal and some of its executives responsible and on Tuesday awarded Turley $25 million in damages, most of it punitive.
The steel giant, which had argued in court that it had taken reasonable steps to stop the incidents, was found liable for allowing a “hostile work environment” and “intentional infliction of emotional distress,” the BuffaloNews.com reported.
“Mister Elijah Turley and his family are very pleased that justice was achieved,” Mills said.
‘We are astonished by today’s decision and consider the compensatory and punitive damages figure excessive,’ ArcelorMittal said in a statement.
ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel maker by sales, was found liable for all, but a small percentage of the $25million award.
The company has not commented on whether it will appeal.