- Associated Press - Monday, May 22, 2017

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld an $85,000 discrimination judgment against a company whose owner repeatedly called a black worker “chocolate” and other racial epithets.

Justices upheld the Dubuque Human Rights Commission’s order that Simon Seeding pay Jermaine Stapleton $49,500 for lost wages and emotional distress. Friday’s 7-0 ruling also upheld orders that Simon pay $35,500 to Stapleton’s attorneys.

Justices say company owner Leo Simon repeatedly called Stapleton names like “chocolate guy” despite Stapleton’s requests to stop. Stapleton says Simon called him an epithet during a 2012 job site dispute before letting him go. Simon testified that any such comments were in jest.

Stapleton was in a work-release facility that placed residents with Simon. The facility ended that relationship after Stapleton and another African-American worker complained about Simon’s epithets. Justices say the commission’s award was backed by substantial evidence.

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