Equinox, New York, has been ordered to pay $11.25 million after a jury found the company liable in early May in a race and gender discrimination lawsuit, according to Crumiller P.C., the firm for Plaintiff, Robynn Europe. Equinox will seek to have the decision overturned, a spokesperson shared with Club Industry.
Robynn was a personal training manager at Equinox’s East 92nd Street location where she said she was subjected to a hostile work environment and ultimately fired in September 2019 based on her race and gender.
Europe was awarded @1.25 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages. She will also be awarded $16,000 in economic damages representing back pay, which was previously agreed to by the parties.
An Equinox spokesperson shared this statement from the company: “We vehemently disagree with the jury’s finding as well as the unjust and excessive award, and we will seek to have the judge overturn the jury’s decision. We do not tolerate discrimination in any form, and as was presented in court, the plaintiff’s employment was terminated solely for attendance issues after arriving late for work 47 times during her 11 months with the company, which she conceded in writing. Her claims of bias are completely baseless and uncorroborated. We are confident that the court will rectify this egregious verdict.”
Equinox filed a motion asking the court to reconsider and either grant a new trial or reduce the award amount.
At trial, Europe testified that Equinox repeatedly ignored her complaints of racist and sexually inappropriate behavior by a fitness manager who reported to her and remains employed by Equinox. Europe said that the manager frequently made vulgar comments about Black women’s bodies, harassed Equinox employees using offensive language, and diverted personal training clients away from employees of color.
Europe alleged that Equinox repeatedly failed to investigate her complaints and instead, fired her, using “lateness” as a pretext. Swipe-in data presented at trial showed that other managers at Equinox had worse time and attendance records than Europe, yet no one else faced discipline for it.
Europe testified that Equinox's failure to address the racist and sexist work atmosphere led to an increase in her symptoms of bulimia, an eating disorder from which she had suffered since high school, requiring her to undergo intensive treatment.
Susan Crumiller, one of Europe’s attorneys, said: “We could not be more thrilled with today’s jury award. The jury sent a loud message to Equinox that there are serious consequences for corporations that permit racist and sexist behavior in the workplace. We are also pleased that the jury found Equinox’s racism had a severe and lasting impact on Röbynn’s mental health and that she deserved to be compensated for it. Let this be a warning to all businesses in New York that if you try to brush harassment and discrimination under the rug, you will not get away with it.”