The African-American women's book club that was kicked off of a Napa Valley Wine Train for "laughing and talking too loud" has officially filed a lawsuit against the company. The incident took place August 22, and the women say they were forced to get off of the train when someone complained about the group's noise levels. The move sparked national outrage and now, according to ABC, the women are suing Napa Valley Wine Train for $11 million.
The CEO of the company issued a public apology after the incident, saying that the company was "100 percent wrong" and accepted "full responsibility." The women were also offered refunds. However, the women did not feel like that was enough for the "humiliation [they] suffered." The book club — which consists of 10 black women and one white woman — says it was "paraded through six cars and forced to get off [the train], where they were met by police." Lisa Johnson, the book club's founder, tells ABC that it was "the most humiliating experience that I have ever had in my life. This is 2015, and this just cannot happen again."
The women are suing the company not just for racial discrimination, but for libel, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, too. The book club's lawyer Waukeen McCoy says that the charge emerges from a now deleted Facebook post the company put up following the incident that accused the women of abuse: "Following verbal and physical abuse towards other guests and staff, it was necessary to get our police involved." McCoy says that two Napa Valley Wine Train employees have since been fired due to the inaccuracies of the Facebook post.
The women say that they are asking for such a high amount of money in hopes of preventing "the company from ever doing anything like this again." Though it appears the company has a history of issues with minorities, and it isn't the first time non-white groups have complained about discrimination while riding the wine train. A Latina woman wrote on the company's Yelp page in April that she and nine of her Latina friends "were admonished by the manger for making too much noise" and were made to feel not welcome.