Court Recommends Cut in Employee’s Race Verdict from $25 to $2.6 Million Posted on January 27, 2015 by Sally Nyemba The Second Circuit decision is a warning to employers that racism will not be accepted. The Second US Circuit has recommend reducing a jury award of $25 million to $2.6 million in the case of a racially-abused worker, after the employer appealed both the trial court decision and a federal judge’s amended award of $6 million. After suffering years of racial abuse at his former place of employment, a federal jury awarded Elijah Turley, a former employee of ArcelorMittal employee in Buffalo, NY, $25 million in damages after the company failed to take action to stop the emotional and mental abuse caused by his co-workers. The new award of $2.6 million however is not final; it still has to be accepted by Elijah Turley and Chief U.S. District Judge Skretny. Regardless of the award amount, attorney Ryan J. Mills stated, “This decision provides further vindication for Mr. Turley because the court has recognized the aggravated circumstances of this case and the extreme nature of defendant’s misconduct.” Hostile work environment Turley brought suit against ArcelorMittal claiming that it allowed a hostile work environment, and alleging that it was responsible for the infliction of emotional distress that Turley suffered. At trial, Turley offered evidence and recounted the torturous events that took place during his time of employment with the company. Turley explained that his co-worker would write racial slurs on the walls inside of the facility. The company knew and was aware that there was graffiti on the walls inside of the facility that displayed the letters “KKK” (Ku Klux Klan). Turley testified that his co-workers would hang monkeys from his car when it was parked in the company’s parking lot. Company employees would also use the business’s intercom to broadcast monkey sounds and to threaten Turley. Moreover, at trial, a witness testified that over 30 percent of the employee’s referred to Turley as “That (F**king Nigger).” Grievances never addressed Turley complained to human resources and his supervisors on numerous occasions, however his grievances were never properly addressed. ArcelorMittal argued that the company took steps to ensure that the atrocious behavior was stopped by suspending employees involved, however, the jury did not find that the company’s efforts were enough. Two years after the jury awarded Turley $25 million, ArcelorMittal appealed the jury’s damages award. However it did not dispute the “gravity of the underlying conduct,” but it raised several procedural and substantive objections to the court’s findings in regard to liability and its damages award. The district court rejected most of ArcelorMittal’s claims. The judge refused to disturb the verdict, which found ArcelorMittal responsible for the immense amount of racial harassment that Turley endured during the time that he was employed with the company. However the court did reconsider the punitive damages award. The court found that the award was “excessive in light of the principles set forth in the prior case law of the Supreme Court and of this Circuit.” Chief United States District Judge William M. Skretny had amended the amount of damages from $25 million to $6 million. ArcelorMittal appealed again, and the district court recommended reducing the damages to $2.6 million. In a statement, ArcelorMittal expressed the gratitude stating that they were “pleased that the Second Circuit agreed that the punitive damages were excessive.” The case is Elijah Turley,Plaintiff–Appellee, v. Arcelor–Mittal USA, Inc., Defendant- Appellant, Docket No. 13‐561.