Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Stone Pony Pizza, Inc.
ORDER on Damages. Signed by District Judge Sharion Aycock on 11/16/2017. (dbm)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION1
CIVIL ACTION NO. 4:13-CV-92-SA-JMV
STONE PONY PIZZA, INC.
ORDER ON DAMAGES
The Court entered a Default Judgment against the Defendant in this case on March 31,
2017. See Order . Subsequently the Plaintiffs filed a number of briefs, affidavits and other
evidence regarding their damages. See [290, 291-298, 301, 302]. The Court reviewed and
considered all of the evidence in the record and awards the following damages and other relief
based on that review.
Compensatory damages for “future pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering,
inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other nonpecuniary losses” are
available to prevailing Title VII plaintiffs under 42 U.S.C. § 1981a. Total compensatory and
punitive damages available to each prevailing plaintiff are capped at $50,000.00 for claims
against employers the size of the Defendant in this case. See 42 U.S.C. § 1981a(b)(3); Black v.
Pan Am. Labs., L.L.C., 646 F.3d 254, 264 (5th Cir. 2011) (holding that the plain language of §
1981a(b)’s cap applies to each party in an action).
There is ample evidence in the record to support an award of compensatory damages for
each of the individuals identified as Plaintiffs in this case. Each of these parties suffered
The Commission represents six Claimants in this case: Tyler Banks, Jr., Christie Boyd, Ja’Lissa Farmer, Marchello
Kemp, Charles Wilder, and Roxchelle Wiley. Eight additional Plaintiffs were permitted to intervene in this action:
Chendra Johnson-Hampton, Wylinda Gregory, Youmeka Simpson, Cecily Allen, Stephanie Clay, Shameika Cooper,
Faith Holmes, and Crystal Peeler. For simplicity, the Court uses the term “Plaintiffs” to refer to all of these parties.
inconvenience and emotional pain as a result of the openly discriminatory policies and actions of
the Defendant. In some cases, the Plaintiffs, prospective employees were encouraged by the
Defendant to apply multiple times even though the Defendant did not intend to hire them. The
Defendant openly taunted and refused interviews to some Plaintiffs, while others were subjected
to irrational and unreasonable application requirements. Some of the Plaintiffs also observed the
Defendant throwing employment applications from African Americans into the trash can
immediately after they were submitted. In addition to their depositions, and the substantial
summary judgment record in this case, each of the Plaintiffs submitted affidavits detailing the
nature, surrounding circumstances, and scope of their damages. The Defendant did not offer any
opposition or raise any defenses.
Based on all of the information in the record, and looking at all of the circumstances of
this case, the Court awards the following compensatory damages as requested by the Plaintiffs:
Banks - $10,000; Boyd - $12,000; Farmer - $15,000; Kemp $25,000; Wilder - $10,000; Wiley $12,000; Johnson-Hampton - $10,000; Gregory - $10,000; Simpson - $10,000; Allen - $10,000;
Clay - $10,000; Cooper - $10,000; Holmes - $10,000; Peeler - $10,000. The total compensatory
damages award is $164,000.
The Plaintiffs in this case also request that the Court award back pay. “Back pay under
Title VII is an equitable, or ‘make whole,’ remedy. Overman v. City of E. Baton Rouge, 656 F.
App’x 664, 671 (5th Cir. 2016) (citing Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody, 422 U.S. 405, 419, 95 S.
Ct. 2362, 45 L. Ed. 2d 280 (1975). “As such, its purpose is to place the plaintiff in the position
that she would have been in but for the defendant’s illegal conduct.” Id. Again, based on all of
the evidence in the record, the Court awards the following damages for back pay: Banks -
$4,158.87; Boyd - $2,231.77; Farmer - $4,933.92; Kemp - $16,870.59;2 Wiley - $2,115.16;
Johnson-Hampton - $33,807.40; Gregory - $18,639.06; Simpson - $34,879.50; Allen $15,737.71; Clay - $28,532.22; Cooper - $76,081.81; Holmes - $53,733.81; Peeler - $16,919.77.
The total back pay award is $308,641.59.
The Plaintiffs in this case also request that the Court award punitive damages. Title 42
U.S.C. § 1981a states in relevant part, “A complaining party may recover punitive damages
under this section against a respondent [. . .] if the complaining party demonstrates that the
respondent engaged in a discriminatory practice or discriminatory practices with malice or with
reckless indifference to the federally protected rights of an aggrieved individual.” 42 U.S.C. §
1981a(b)(1). “The terms ‘malice’ or ‘reckless indifference’ pertain to the employer’s knowledge
that it may be acting in violation of federal law, not its awareness that it is engaging
in discrimination.” Henry v. CorpCar Servs. Houston, Ltd., 625 F. App’x 607, 614 (5th
Cir.), reh’g denied (Mar. 5, 2015), cert. denied, 136 S. Ct. 104, 193 L. Ed. 2d 36 (2015) (quoting
Kolstad v. Am. Dental Ass’n, 527 U.S. 526, 535, 119 S. Ct. 2118, 144 L. Ed. 2d 494 (1999)).
In the instant case, there is ample evidence that Stone Pony intentionally discriminated
against African American employees and applicants in addition to intentionally maintaining a
segregated workforce with minority employees relegated to back of house jobs and white
employees exclusively staffing the front of house positions. There is also ample evidence, in both
corporate deposition testimony and Stone Pony corporate documents, that Stone Pony
management was fully aware of the relevant federal antidiscrimination statutes and policies and
knowingly violated them. This is exactly the type of invidious discrimination these Civil Rights
statutes were implemented to prevent. For all of these reasons, the Court awards punitive
Wilder made no request for back pay.
damages in this case in the amount of $25,000 per Plaintiff for a total punitive damages award of
Finally, the Commission seeks injunctive relief against Stone Pony as authorized under
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5 when an employer “has intentionally engaged in or is intentionally
engaging in an unlawful employment practice.” 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e-5(g)(1). Specifically, the
Commission requests that Stone Pony be enjoined from engaging in racial discrimination against
African American job applicants, maintaining a segregated workforce on the basis of race, and
discarding personnel or employment records, including employment applications, resumes and
any other documents submitted by job applicants, for a period of one year. The Court finds the
Commission’s request for injunctive relief warranted and necessary to ensure that Stone Pony
does not engage in these prohibited discriminatory practices in the future.
For all of the reasons fully explained above, the Court orders the following:
Defendant Stone Pony is ordered to pay: $39,158.87 to Tyler Banks, Jr.; $39,231.77 to
Christie Boyd; $44,933.92 to Ja’Lissa Farmer; $66,870.59 to Marchello Kemp; $35,000 to
Charles Wilder; $39,115.16 to Roxchelle Wiley; $68,807.40 to Chendra Johnson-Hampton;
$53,639.06 to Wylinda Gregory; $69,879.50 to Youmeka Simpson; $50,737.71 to Cecily Allen;
$63,532.22 to Stephanie Clay; $111,081.81 to Shameika Cooper; $88,733.81 to Faith Holmes;
and $51,919.77 to Crystal Peeler.
Defendant Stone Pony is permanently enjoined from engaging in racial discrimination
against job applicants, maintaining a segregated workforce on the basis of race, and discarding
personnel or employment records, including employment applications, resumes and any other
documents submitted by job applicants within one year of creation or submission.
SO ORDERED on this the 16th day of November, 2017.
/s/ Sharion Aycock
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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