A group of mostly black women who filed an $11 million racial discrimination lawsuit against the Napa Valley Wine Train have reached a settlement in their case.
A total of 11 women, 10 black and one white, were escorted off the Napa Valley Wine Train last August, and into police custody, after management said they “received complaints” about loud noises coming from one of the cars.
“It was humiliating. I’m really offended to be quite honest,” Lisa Johnson, one of the women in the group, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
The women’s attorney, Waukeen McCoy, said the precise settlement amount is confidential.
Within a few short hours, the controversy had fueled a fierce social media reaction and the hashtag #LaughingWhileBlack began trending on Facebook and Twitter.
Some social media users called for a boycott of the Wine Train.
“It felt like it was a racist attack on us. I feel like we were being singled out,” Johnson said of the incident.
“When someone is removed from a train, they have to be dropped off at a station, and our policy is if someone is let off the train we’ll stand by. We keep them safe until someone can get them,” said Chief Jeff Hullquist of the Napa Valley Railroad Police Department said.
Napa Valley Wine Train “received complaints from several parties in the same car and after three attempts from staff, requesting that the group keep the noise to an acceptable level, they were removed from the train and offered transportation back to the station in Napa,” said spokeswoman Kira Devitt in a statement in response to the incident.
The Napa Valley Wine Train attempted to reconcile the incident after forcing the women off the train. Johnson and her group were reportedly offered a refund.
“They knew they were out of place,” Johnson said, adding that the only thing she want is a “public apology for the humiliations they caused to us as professional women.”