Man awarded $25 million in race trial

June 13, 2012 at 3:49 PM

BUFFALO, N.Y., June 13 (UPI) -- A federal court awarded $25 million in damages to a steelworker after finding his employer liable for a culture of racial discrimination.

The jury in the three-week case of Elijah Turley, an African-American process operator in ArcelorMittel's steel making facility in Lackawanna, N.Y., for 14 years, reached a unanimous decision Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Buffalo, N.Y., Tuesday, after Turley testified about a series of incidents during his time in the plant, the Buffalo News reported Wednesday.

His testimony included mention of a stuffed toy monkey with a noose around its neck, attached to the mirror of his car, "KKK" and "King Kong" graffiti on the walls of the plant and numerous racial slurs from co-workers, the newspaper said.

"It's absolutely shocking that a case like this is in court in 2012. It should be viewed as atrocious and intolerable in a civilized society. This case is about the breakdown of a man. He wanted to be treated equally, in a culture that hadn't changed since the 50s," Turley's lawyer, Ryan J. Mills, said in his closing argument.

The jury found the company, based in Luxembourg, liable for allowing a "hostile work environment" and for the "intentional infliction of emotional distress." The newspaper noted the overwhelming share of the damages were punitive, intended to either punish the company or deter it from engaging in similar conduct.

Steel production at ArcelorMittel's Lackawanna plant ended in 2009, but the company operates dozens of plants in the United States, the newspaper said.

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