Black strippers awarded $3.3m after judge rules they worked in worse conditions than white colleagues

Tom Embury-Dennis

Five African-American strippers have been awarded more than $3m by a Mississippi jury after a judge ruled the women were forced to work in worse conditions than their white colleagues.

The women were awarded the damages following a year-long case against Danny’s Downtown Cabaret, in Jackson, which was sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The commission, which challenges workplace discrimination, said the club limited when black women could work and fined them $25 (£20) when they missed a shift. It alleged the white strippers were not subjected to those fines and were given flexible schedules.

The club was also accused of forcing black strippers to work at another Jackson establishment with lower pay and worse security, while Danny’s manager allegedly used a racial slur against a black dancer.

US district judge Henry Wingate ruled in the discrimination case last year. After a trial that lasted nearly a week on the question of damages, jurors earlier this week decided the women would split $3.3m (£2.59m) for back pay and past and future suffering.

The lawyer for Danny’s, Bill Walter, said on Friday he will ask Judge Wingate to reduce the award. If he disagrees, Mr Walter said he will appeal.

“Obviously, the client is disappointed in the verdict,” Mr Walter said.

Marsha Rucker, the EEOC’s regional lawyer in Birmingham, Alabama, said in a statement the commission “will protect employees in any industry who are subjected to such blatant and repeated discrimination”.

“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,” Ms Rucker said.

“The jury ... sent a powerful message to Danny’s and any employer who thinks they are above the law.”

Additional reporting by AP