Rob Carmona repeatedly used the N-word in a rant directed at his employee, Brandi Johnson. Both Mr. Carmona and Ms. Johnson are black. Ms. Johnson sued Mr. Carmona and the employment agency they worked for, STRIVE East Harlem, after she was terminated. She claimed race and gender discrimination as well as retaliation for complaints she had made to Mr. Carmona and the agency’s CEO.
The tirade was directed toward Ms. Johnson’s perceived inappropriate workplace attire and unprofessional behavior. Ms. Johnson recorded part of the rant and it was played in court. The N-word was used eight times in the recording.
Mr. Carmona obviously did not dispute his use of the word. Rather, he argued the impact and context of the N-word was different when used within the black community. The recording was just an example of his tough love approach to helping Ms. Johnson. The jury agreed with Ms. Johnson that the use of the N-word was offensive and hurtful no matter who used it. Ms. Johnson was awarded $250,000 in compensatory damages and $35,000 in punitive damages. Mr. Carmona was individually responsible for $25,000 of the punitive damages.