African American Winery Employees File Racial Discrimination, Retaliation Lawsuit
Oct 18, 2016
San Francisco, CA (Law Firm Newswire) October 18, 2016 – Three African American employees of a winery based in Napa, California, sued their employers for racial discrimination, wrongful termination and retaliation.
Staffing agency Aerotek hired Avalita Jenkins, Tracey Jenkins and Samuel Williams in February to work as special project workers. They were placed at Trinchero Family Estates’ facility in Salida, California, where they loaded and unloaded wine bottles. Trinchero supervised them on a daily basis while Aerotek paid their wages. Both companies were named defendants in the lawsuit, along with Sutter Home Winery which is doing business as Trinchero Family Estates.
During three separate instances in March, the employees’ Hispanic supervisor Norma Ramirez called the plaintiffs “mayates.” The term means “niggers” in Spanish. The other Hispanic workers laughed in response to the derogatory remark.
After the third incident on March 17, Avalita Jenkins immediately complained to Trinchero managers. She was fired the next day. In addition, her supervisor refused to place her at another jobsite.
“The defendants failed to take any immediate and appropriate action to prevent further harassment in response to the employees’ complaints of racial discrimination in the workplace,” commented attorney Bryan J. McCormack of McCormack and Erlich, a San Francisco, California-based employment law firm, who is representing the plaintiffs.
On March 21 Avalita Jenkins wrote a note and emailed Aerotek about the offensive language that was used against the African American employees on several occasions. She also stated she was fired within 24 hours of her complaint. However, it was not until several days later that an Aerotek manager emailed and left Avalita Jenkins a phone message asking her to call him about her complaint.
She tried to contact him, but the manager never returned her calls nor responded to the complaint. The company also fired Tracey Jenkins and Samuel Williams. Additionally, they refused to place them at other jobsites.
The plaintiffs are demanding a jury trial. They are seeking punitive damages as well as compensation for lost wages, benefits and physical and mental suffering. “The company could have relocated the employees to a different jobsite. Instead, they were terminated in retaliation for their complaints about the offensive remarks,” said McCormack.
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