Fitness trainer and former bodybuilder Röbynn Europe has been awarded $11.25 million in damages in a discrimination lawsuit she brought against the luxury fitness chain Equinox.
Europe worked at an Upper East Side location of the gym in New York City. She worked as a personal trainer manager between 2018 and 2019. But was fired in 2019 over the company’s claims that she was regularly late to work.
In response to her firing, Europe filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court in September 202. She claimed she was subjected to a hostile work environment and was fired because of her race and gender.
“Racism and sexism — they are just pervasive in the fitness industry,” Europe told The New York Times during an interview about her case. “In coastal cities, training is something you can do without a degree and you can make $75 an hour — there are not a lot of opportunities to do that, so it’s a big draw for people of color.”
A Troubled Work Environment
The New York Times piece details Europe’s case. It included allegations that a manger who reported to Europe made negative comments about Black women and their bodies. Europe also alleged the manager called employees who weren’t white “lazy.” Europe testified that these instances — along with other intense issues at the gym — caused her severe emotional and physical distress. Her legal team stressed her male bosses did not listen to her attempts to alert them about these issues.
Her team also presented a chart during the case showing the patterns of lateness of other employees at the gym who didn’t face as harsh consequences as Europe for being late.
A Victory For All Black Women
An all-women legal team represented Europe
“The civil justice system prevailed today,” Europe’s attorney Susan Crumiller said in a statement after the verdict was announced. “Equinox thought it could get away with its appalling behavior and a jury of New Yorkers said otherwise.”
Crumiller called it a victory for all Black women.
“This is not just a victory for our client, but for all Black women who have suffered that noxious combination of racism and sexism that is too often tolerated in the workplace,” Crumiller said. “We could not be prouder of Röbynn for her relentless determination to hold Equinox accountable for its vile misogyny.”
Europe was awarded $1,250,000 in compensatory damages and $10,000,000 in punitive damages — adding up to a total award of $11,250,000.
Following the verdict, Equinox released a statement saying it “vehemently disagreed” with the ruling. It added that it did not “tolerate discrimination in any form” and went on to request that the court reconsider the case.