Medro Johnson, of Sears Home Improvement Products, was at an August 2008 company barbecue with his family when a co-worker walked up and blurted a racial slur, issued with a “slave dialect.”
“Medro calls me Masta,” co-worker Paul St. Hilaire said with laughter.
Johnson, an Elk Grove resident and a descendant of slaves, would later testify in court that he was humiliated to be referred to as a slave in front of his wife, son and daughter.
Last Friday, after a one-month trial and more than eight hours of deliberation, a Sacramento Superior Court jury awarded him $5.2 million in damages, including $2.2 million to compensate for lost earnings, pain and suffering.
The other $3 million was for punitive damages, an award granted after the jury found that Sears’ policymakers and managers conducted themselves “with malice, oppression or fraud” for failing to investigate or to act on Johnson’s complaints about the slur and other racist acts.
Other incidents included the N-word and threats.