A former Equinox trainer has been awarded more than $11.3 million after winning a court battle against the sports club.
Röbynn Europe, who is Black, filed a lawsuit three years ago after she claimed to have endured a toxic work atmosphere as well as race and gender discrimination. She will receive $10,000,000 in punitive damages, $1,250,000 in compensatory damages, and $16,000 in back pay.
Europe was hired at the upscale fitness center on 92nd Street in New York in 2018. Despite being quickly promoted, she said things changed after she was tasked with overseeing 15 employees who repeatedly made vulgar remarks, objectified the bodies of Black women, and challenged her authority as their superior. She brought the issues to the attention of higher-ups, who subsequently fired her less than a year into her employment with the franchise in 2019. Months later, Europe filed a lawsuit, arguing that her firing was in retaliation for her workplace complaints of racism and sexism.
Equinox hit back, saying that her termination was instead the result of her being late a total of 47 times during her 11-month tenure. Data from employee swipe-ins would prove that several other non-Black managers had a track record of showing up late to work well after the start of their shift. Europe concluded that she was being punished by selective enforcement of the attendance policy, according to CBS News, which reported on the matter on Friday (May 26). A judge presiding over the case ultimately threw out claims of retaliation.
In the end, a jury sided with Europe and issued a verdict in her favor on May 19. “The jury sent a loud message to Equinox that there are serious consequences for corporations that permit racist and sexist behavior in the workplace,” said Susan Crumiller, Europe’s attorney. She added, “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.” Equinox says the award is excessive, and a motion has been filed to overturn the jury’s decision.
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