*The group of mostly African-American women who were booted from a Napa Valley Wine Train in August for being too loud are now suing the company for $11 million, and say they were kicked off because they are black.
The group says their reputation has been irreparably damaged, and that the lawsuit is being filed to hold management accountable so that what happened to them won’t happen to anyone else.
“It felt like we were being singled out because there were others doing exact same thing we were doing,” said plaintiff Lisa Johnson at a press conference held Thursday to announce the lawsuit.
The group’s lawyer, San Francisco civil rights attorney Waukeen McCoy, said his clients were unfairly kicked off the train based on their race, and that lies were told regarding the reason the 11 book club members were forced to leave.
“There was a posting made by the wine train company that said these women physically and verbally abused passengers on train,” McCoy said.
That Facebook post was later deleted and the CEO publicly apologized for the mistake. But the women say they were personally and professionally shamed. Two of the women said they even lost their jobs.
The lawsuit alleges racial discrimination, libel, defamation and breach of contract.
Linda Carlson, the only non-black member of the book club, told reporters, “No one should ever have to experience what we did that day. I truly feel like I know what it feels like to be black woman.”
In a statement, Napa Valley Wine Train said it takes allegations of discrimination very seriously, adding that it’s conducting its own investigation and has hired a former FBI agent to look into the matter.
Watch a report on the lawsuit below: