The proprietors of the Napa Valley Wine Train are finding out what a costly mistake it was to kick off members of a book club for laughing while Black.
The group of 11 women, who are mostly Black, filed suit against the company on Thursday for racial discrimination, adding that many other loud customers were allowed to stay onboard despite their disruptive behavior. The difference is that those other passengers were White. According to the Associated Press the women are seeking $11 million in damages for the mortifying ordeal.
Back in August, the ladies met on one of Napa Valley Wine Train Inc.’s coaches to discuss a romance novel, and they claim it didn’t take long for the staff to single them out. Their suit states that they were asked to quiet down before the train ever pulled out of the station. They were approached a second time before being told the cops had been called on them.
During a press conference, the women recalled that they were led through the train as other passengers gawked at them before they were ejected into a dirt lot, where police were waiting.
“That was the most humiliating experience that I have ever had in my entire life,” one of the victims, a woman named Lisa Johnson, said as she began to get teary-eyed. “This is 2015, and this just cannot happen again.”
“I took this case because it’s an egregious case,” the group’s attorney, Waukeen McCoy, added. “This lawsuit highlights that blacks are still being treated differently in America.”
Owners tried to smooth things over by issuing a public apology and offering the group a free trip, both of which the women promptly rejected. The damage had already been done, and a statement from Napa Valley Wine Train, Inc. had also claimed the women were abusive to the staff.
For its part the company said that it has hired a former FBI agent to investigate the incident, but a rep noted that people are kicked off the train at least once a month for plenty of different reasons.