US & Canada

US black boss used racial slur against black employee

Rob Carmona
Image caption Rob Carmona co-founded the employment agency, Strive

A New York City jury has awarded $30,000 (£19,300) in punitive damages against a black employer who used a racial slur against a black employee.

The sum is in addition to the $250,000 of compensatory damages awarded last week to Brandi Johnson, 38, for the March 2012 rant by her boss.

Employment agency founder Rob Carmona, 61, had argued his use of the epithet was a term of love and endearment.

The case heard debate on the use of the slur by black and white people.

The Manhattan federal jury decided on Tuesday that Mr Carmona must pay $25,000 and his organisation, Strive East Harlem, must pay another $5,000.

He appeared emotional as he testified earlier in the hearing, saying he had learned his lesson and must change how he communicates.

Ms Johnson's lawyer said Mr Carmona had used the term while subjecting her client to a four-minute tirade, accusing her of unprofessional conduct and attire.

She said she taped his comments after her complaints about previous verbal abuse by him were disregarded.

Ms Johnson said she had fled to the toilet and cried for 45 minutes afterwards.

Her lawyer, Marjorie Sharpe, said jurors should send a message that "calling somebody the n-word is a very serious thing".

In his own testimony, Mr Carmona said he used the word to convey that Ms Johnson was "too emotional, wrapped up in her, at least the negative aspects of human nature".

When asked if he meant to indicate love when he used the racial slur against Ms Johnson, he said he had.

Mr Carmona co-founded the employment agency three decades ago. It has been credited with helping almost 50,000 people find work since 1984.

Most of Strive's employees are black women, defence lawyer Diane Krebs said.

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