$5.5M Settlement Rocks Miss. Nightclub in Racial Bias Suit Filed by EEOC on Black Dancers’ Behalf

It’s costing this Mississippi “cabaret” a bundle to put behind it a lawsuit alleging bias against black dancers.

A Mississippi federal court jury May 16 returned a verdict in favor of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and five black dancers who were subjected to egregious race discrimination while employed by Danny’s of Jackson, LLC (Danny’s), doing business as Danny’s Downtown Cabaret, a Jackson, Mississippi night club. The verdicts included $1.5 million in punitive damages $1.68 million in compensatory damages, and $130,550 in backpay.

According to the EEOC, Danny’s, and its predecessor, Baby O’s Restaurant, subjected black dancers to discriminatory terms and conditions of employment for years, including limiting the number of shifts black dancers could work, and subjecting them to racially offensive epithets. Danny’s also forced the dancers to work at a related club, Black Diamonds, even though they were subject to arrest there because they were not licensed to work at that club. The pay and working conditions at Black Diamonds were inferior to those at Danny’s, and there was less security there. The dancers who refused to work at Black Diamonds were fined and sent home, and not allowed to work at Danny’s.

Despite at least eight years of efforts by the EEOC, which included two EEOC charges, three prior lawsuits and contempt proceedings and three consent decrees Danny’s continued to discriminate against the dancers.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race. The EEOC’s filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi in Jackson (EEOC v. Danny’s Restaurant, LLC and Danny’s of Jackson, LLC f/k/a Baby O’s Restaurant, Inc. d/b/a  Danny’s Downtown Cabaret, Civil Action No. 3:16-cv-00769-HTW-LRA).

Marsha Rucker, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Birmingham, said, “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. 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.”

Bradley A. Anderson, district director said, ” The long road over 8+ years and multiple cases against Danny’s to get to the justice delivered yesterday is why we all work at the EEOC. We are extremely proud of this result on behalf of the public we serve and the class members who faced heinous discrimination in this case.”

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