A Black personal trainer for a high-end Equinox gym, Röbynn Europe, claimed that she was unlawfully terminated for calling out the company for having rooted racism and sexism and for discriminating against her based on gender and sex. Earlier this month, according to CBS News, Europe was awarded $11.25 million in damages, including $10 million in punitive damages against Equinox itself.
The court documents described that Europe was hired in 2018 by the gym. After being promoted, she faced a “toxic [work] atmosphere” from other white employees when they repeatedly made vulgar comments about Black women’s bodies and refused to respect her authority. She called out the company’s practices that allowed it to occur, and Equinox reportedly retaliated by firing her. Europe worked there for less than a year, and she filed a lawsuit immediately following her termination.
Equinox, however, claimed that they fired her because she was constantly late to work, arriving after her start time 47 times in just 11 months of employment. A jury of her peers decided otherwise.
Europe’s attorney, Susan Crumiller, said in a statement, “The jury sent a loud message to Equinox that there are serious consequences for corporations that permit racist and sexist behavior in the workplace.”
“We are also pleased that the jury found Equinox’s racism had a severe and lasting impact on Röbynn’s mental health and that she deserved to be compensated for it.”
Equinox responded to the media around the lawsuit by attempting to remind people of their diversity and inclusion principles in a statement shared with CBS. Equinox disagreed with the jury’s decision publicly, stating, “This is a case of termination for performance related to attendance, and nothing more. We vehemently disagree with the jury’s finding, as well as the unjust and excessive award, and have filed a motion seeking to have the judge overturn the jury’s decision.”