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Woman Wins $280,000 Award in “N*gger” Case

Brandi Johnson

The lawyer for a Black woman whose hostile workplace claim against a Black boss's N-word rant produced a $280,000 jury award says she hopes the case teaches society something. "It's the most offensive word in the English language," attorney Marjorie M. Sharpe said outside federal court in Manhattan after a jury Tuesday added $30,000 in punitive damages to go with a $250,000 compensatory damages award it imposed last week against STRIVE East Harlem and founder Rob Carmona.

Sharpe stood with her client, 38-year-old Brandi Johnson, after a jury of six men and two women determined Carmona owes her $25,000 and STRIVE $5,000 in additional damages in a case that put a legal microscope to the concept that the word that is a degrading slur when spoken by whites can be used without retribution and sometimes affectionately among Blacks, even in the workplace.

Sharpe said the double standard had persisted far too long as "people have tried to take the sting away from the N-word." Johnson said she hopes the word now "won't be tolerated no matter what your race is." Carmona, a 61-year-old Black man of Puerto Rican descent, had testified at the trial that he was dispensing tough love in language he faced from counselors who turned him from a drug addict with an arrest record into the creator of an often-praised organization that has helped nearly 50,000 hard-to-employ people find work since 1984.

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