- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The black woman who brought a hostile workplace complaint against her black boss for his repeated use of the “N-word” during a lengthy office rant has now won a $30,000 punitive damages award.

That adds to the $250,000 she won a few days ago in compensatory damages from a federal jury in Manhattan.

The case pitted Brandi Johnson, 38, against Rob Carmona, 61, the founder of the STRIVE East Harlem organization to help those of lesser means find jobs and gain economic sustainability. Ms. Johnson said Mr. Carmona had used the N-word repeatedly during a March 2012 office discussion, in which he expressed his dissatisfaction with her work performance. She testified that the dressing down and his use of the N-word left her “offended” and “embarrassed,” and that she spent 45 minutes crying in the bathroom.


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Mr. Carmona, for his part, said he was only using the N-word as a term of endearment and that in the black culture, the term was often expressed in love. A federal jury didn’t buy that argument, and awarded Ms. Johnson $250,000 in compensatory damages.

On Tuesday, the jury gave her $30,000 for punitive damages, The Associated Press reported.

“It’s the most offensive word in the English language,” her attorney, Marjorie Sharpe said after the ruling, AP reported.


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Mr. Carmona will have to pay $25,000 and his business STRIVE the other $5,000, the jury said.

The ruling helps clarify what’s been widely seen as a confusing double standard — that blacks can use the N-word with impunity in public, while other races cannot, or else face cries of racism. Ms. Sharpe acknowledged the double standard and guessed the case would leave a lasting impression on other businesses around the nation, facing similar situations.

Meanwhile, Ms. Johnson expressed satisfaction with the outcome and said that perhaps now the N-word “won’t be tolerated no matter what your race is,” AP reported.