Black Women Who Were Kicked Off Napa Valley Wine Train Reach Settlement

Remember last August when news broke about a group of Black women being kicked off a Napa Valley wine train because they were “too loud”?

Well, there were 11 women in the group, 10 who are African-American, and each one filed a lawsuit asking for $1 million each claiming they were humiliated and discriminated against by staff who told them to lower their voices.

In the complaint they said, “African-American adults are more likely to be shushed at, stared at and kicked out of places where White people perceive they do not fit.” Also included in the lawsuit were accusations of defamation and libel against the wine train company after they posted a false account of the incident of social media saying the women were verbally and physically abusive to the other passengers. After being put off the train, the ladies were met by police, and the post said that was “necessary.”

This month, their lawyer said they reached an ‘amicable settlement’ six months after the lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in northern California. Details of the settlement were not revealed, but their attorney, Waukeen McCoy, said, “We hope that other businesses learn from this case and implement diversity and sensitivity training for employees.”

This all started on August 22 when the women, who are part of the book club, Sisters on the Reading Edge, boarded the train in Napa. In the beginning, they were having a good time with each other laughing talking. Then the group of ladies were asked by the train manager to lower their voices. Reportedly, the manager spoke to them a second time, now threatening to remove them from the train. When the train reached St. Helena, the women were escorted off the train and were met by police from the Napa Valley Railroad.

They were refunded the $124 for their tickets and the company gave them a vehicle to transport them back to Napa. Throughout all this, the ladies maintain they did nothing wrong.

Once this story broke last summer, there was outrage on social media. A woman who is only known as Danielle from Seattle, witnessed the whole thing and wrote: “I watched in disbelief as staff harassed a group of people who were merely drinking wine and laughing. I’d like to think it wasn’t a racially motivated act but given the fact that other, non-black guests were behaving in the same way, I can only conclude that it was discrimination.”

Two of the women in the book club say they were fired from their jobs due to the statement the wine train company put out. Before the lawsuit was filed, chief executive of the company, Anthony Giaccio, released a public apology and promised to give his staff diversity training and offered to host the women on the train again free of charge along with 39 of their friends in a private car, which is worth $6, 200.

The women didn’t see this as enough to make up for their humiliating experience, thus, they continued with the lawsuit.

Hopefully, the wine train company has learned from this situation and now hires employees who are used to being around diverse crowds. This is a big win for the ladies, and clearly, the company acknowledges they were in the wrong.