Trucker awarded $3.3 million in discrimination suit

| 10/29/2002

A jury has awarded $3.3 million to a Denver truckdriver who accused supervisors at Yellow Freight System of intimidating and harassing black employees.

Matthew J. Antoine, who works at Yellow's Aurora, CO, distribution center, said his managers plastered racially denigrating graffiti around the workplace. Several times, Antoine said, he found a noose hanging in a trailer where he worked.

Antoine accused his shift manager at the service center of saying the black employees looked like monkeys. In his argument, Antoine said he and others repeatedly complained, but the company took no action.

During the trial, Yellow Freight's lawyers argued the company had warned those participating in the harassment to stop. The warnings complied with federal requirements to take prompt and immediate action, the firm argued.

But the company didn't discipline those who continued their harassment, Antoine's lawyers said. That failure put Yellow in violation of the civil rights act.

Juror Linda Gordon told the Rocky Mountain News it became apparent during the trial that "sensitivity training" at Yellow Freight was a foreign concept. The eight-member jury awarded $3 million for punitive damages and $300,000 for emotional distress.