Jury awards Portland woman $1 million in damages in race discrimination case
PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - A jury has reached a $1 million verdict in a racial discrimination case. It comes after a Portland woman said a convenience store employee told her “I don’t serve Black people,” as she was trying to buy gas.
Rose Wakefield said what she experienced on March 12, 2020 is still difficult to talk about.
“It’s humiliating, it’s embarrassing,” Wakefield said. “It’s something that should’ve never happened.”
She said the Jacksons gas station in Beaverton is one she’s been to many times before.
“I work maybe like six blocks from this station,” Wakefield said.
But on that particular day, she said she was refused service by a gas pump attendant.
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“I was ignored and racially attacked,” Wakefield said.
She said she immediately filed a complaint with Jackson Food Stores’ corporate office.
“They didn’t address the complaint, so at that point I did get an attorney,” Wakefield said.
“We sued the companies that this guy worked for,” Greg Kafoury, an attorney at Kafoury & McDougal, said. “They offered $12,000 to settle a case, and we said no, we’ll go to trial.”
Wakefield’s attorney said the complaint was filed for racial discrimination in a place of public accommodation.
“They wrote up the young man who said, ‘I don’t serve Black people.’ They wrote him up four times for talking on the cell phone on the job. In a year-and-a-half there he’d never been accused of that, but all of a sudden four times in 30 days and then they fired him after that,” Kafoury said. “This shows that they knew he’d done exactly what Rose Wakefield accused him of.”
And on Monday, a Multnomah County jury found that Wakefield did suffer racial discrimination and awarded $1 million in damages.
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“We want this corporation and other corporations to know that accusations of racist conduct by their employees need to be taken seriously,” Kafoury said.
Wakefield said she feels she can finally find some closure.
“I feel relieved, vindicated,” Wakefield said.
FOX 12 receives this statement from Cory Jackson, President of Jacksons Food Stores:
“At Jacksons, we have a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind. We serve everyone; this is core to our people mission and our policies and something we are committed to acting upon every day. We provide multiple trainings to our employees — the lifeblood of our company — throughout the year so they can best serve all of our customers with dignity and respect. We want to provide a safe shopping experience for all people and take equity very seriously. After carefully reviewing all facts and evidence, including video surveillance, we chose to take this matter to trial because we were comfortable based on our knowledge that the service-related concern actually reported by the customer was investigated and promptly addressed. As such, we respectfully disagree with the jury’s ruling because our knowledge does not align with the verdict.”
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