Spire Employee Awarded $8.5 Million in Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

ST. LOUIS • A St. Louis jury has awarded $8.5 million to a Danielle McGaughy, of St. Joseph, Mo., sued the gas company for racial discrimination.

After a two-week trial before St. Louis Circuit Judge Steven Ohmer, jurors found Thursday evening in favor of Danielle McGaughy, 47, of St. Joseph, Mo., a black woman who has worked for the gas utility since 2004.

McGaughy sued Spire in St. Louis Circuit Court in February 2016, claiming a hostile work environment, including coworkers’ referring to President Barack Obama as a monkey. She also claimed she was passed over for a promotion to a supervisor position in 2014 in favor of a younger, white female coworker whom McGaughy said had less education and work experience.

McGaughy’s lawsuit included other claims of racial discrimination: that she was denied five other promotions and forced to commute to Kansas City instead working at an office in St. Joseph where she lives.

McGaughy testified that although she encountered no direct racist comments at work, her managers and colleagues questioned her competence, her attorneys E.E. Keenan and Sonal Bhatia said. The trial, they said, focused on subconscious workplace bias — that employers treat workers of color differently through subtle microaggressions.

Read more by By Joel Currier St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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