Five black Mississippi strippers have been awarded $3.3 million in damages by a Mississippi jury after a federal judge established the conditions in which they were working were much worse than those of their white colleagues.
The suit, which was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of the strippers claimed Danny’s Downtown Cabaret, a nightclub in Jackson, Mississippi for years subjected the dancers to various unfavorable and discriminatory working conditions including reducing their number of shifts in preference to having white dancers and hurling racial slurs at them.
Additionally, Danny’s and its predecessor, Baby O’s Restaurant forced the strippers to work at another related club, Black Diamonds, which had deplorable working conditions and paid them way less than Danny’s. Though it was illegal for them to work there, dancers who defied orders were fined, sent home and barred from working at Danny’s, a statement by the EEOC further read.
This isn’t the first time the EEOC has sued Danny’s. The Associated Press reports that they were sued some years ago for limiting the working hours of Black Mississippi strippers and fining them $25 if they did not show up to work. The white strippers, on the other hand, had flexible working schedules and were not fined if they missed work.
The latest verdict, according to the EEOC will see the dancers receive $1.5 million in punitive damages, $1.68 million in compensatory damages, and $130,550 in back pay.
Bill Walter, the attorney for Danny’s Downtown Cabaret on Friday, however, said he will ask the judge to reduce the award with an intention to appeal if it’s unsuccessful.
“Obviously, the client is disappointed in the verdict,” he said, according to the Associated Press.
Marsha Rucker, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Birmingham shared their satisfaction with the verdict.
“This case shows the EEOC will sue any employer, operating any type of business, who violates federal anti-discrimination laws, especially those who will not stop discriminating even after being given repeated chances to do so,” she said.
“The EEOC will protect employees in any industry who are subjected to such blatant and repeated discrimination. The jury yesterday sent a powerful message to Danny’s and any employer who thinks they are above the law,” she added.