Black Women Settle Lawsuit With Napa Valley Wine Train
The Sistahs Get Undisclosed Sum In Settlement Discrimination Lawsuit Against The Napa Valley Wine Train
by Heather Cassell
Sistahs on the Reading Edge settled their race discrimination lawsuit against the Napa Valley Wine Train April 18.
The Wine Train’s governing board still needs to approve the undisclosed settlement with the 11 women who were allegedly unceremoniously kicked off of the train for being loud and boisterous in August 2015, according to media reports.
Attorney Waukeen McCoy who represented the women tells reporters that the agreement was amicable. He says he hopes the Wine Train’s experience is a reminder to all businesses for the need for “diversity and sensitivity training,” he says.
Representatives of the Wine Train didn’t responds to media requests for comment.
The women told the media that they were humiliated and claimed they suffered from the incident which prompted them to file the discrimination lawsuit against the train in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco in October.
The women alleged that they were singled out because they are black and they claimed libel from the Facebook post where train employee claimed the women were being “verbal and physical abuse toward other guests and staff,” in the lawsuit.
The post was swiftly removed from Facebook, but it had already been widely distributed and commented on, some of the post’s comments were hostile.
The train CEO Anthony “Tony” Giaccio apologized offering them a free train ride with guests. The women rejected the apology and instead presented the train with a lawsuit.
Two of the women – a bank manager and a nurse – allegedly lost their jobs due to the incident.
A Trip To Wine Country
It was supposed to be a day to remember filled with fun, friends, and talking about the hot romance novel they had read. It did become a day to remember, but for all of the wrong reasons.
The women, 10 who are black and one who is a white woman ranging in ages from their mid-30s to 85, were having a great time sipping wine, enjoying a gourmet meal, and chatting with each other and other passengers when they were asked to tone it down by a manager, according to Lisa Johnson, 48, who runs the book club and is a writer who lives in Antioch.
The manager asked them again to tone their conversation down.
Soon after when the train arrived in St. Helena they were greeted by police and escorted off of the train, Lisa told the media at the time.
Sensing something was terribly wrong her Facebook posts recording their day out soon turned into documenting the incident.
The women were driven back to their cars and refunded the $62 per person, according to Tony.
The insult didn’t end there. The wine train wrote a degrading post in response to public outcry after Lisa posted photos and comments about the incident on her Facebook page. Her posts went viral and were tagged #laughingwhileblack.
The train spokesperson defended its decision in a Facebook post of its own explaining that staff members remove people from the train once a month for getting a “bit too rowdy and disturb other guests.”
In all of the book clubs 17 years of meeting in the East Bay and going on weekend trips together they hadn’t experienced anything like how they were treated on the train.
Getting Back To Fiction
Lisa simply wants to return to those simpler days.
“We’re just looking forward to moving on and getting back to reading books,” she tells the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Napa Valley Wine Train was founded 26 years ago by the late Rice-a-Roni executive Vincent DeDomenico. He restored the historic tracks and antique railroad cars to provide the luxury experience through the famed Napa Valley vineyards coupled with wine from the region and a gourmet meal and tours of the wineries. The train was sold to Noble House Hotels & Resorts, the luxury boutique hospitality company based in Seattle, Washington, and Brooks Street, a real estate development and investment company with an office in Walnut Creek, in September 2015.
Book your next trip to the Napa Valley with Girls That Roam Travel. Contact Heather Cassell at Girls That Roam Travel in association with Travel Advisors of Los Gatos at 408-354-6531 or 415-517-7239 or at .
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