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Jury awards $75,000 in racial harassment trial

April 17, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Berkeley County jury awarded $75,000 to a former manager at the Corning Inc. plant Thursday after determining the supervisor was subjected to a hostile working environment due to racial harassment, according to court records.

The all-white jury handed down the decision following four days of testimony in Berkeley County Circuit Court.

The jury awarded Arturo G. Sherrard $75,000 in compensatory damages for emotional distress, embarrassment and humiliation, court records said.

The jury also found that Sherrard was subjected to a hostile work environment because of racial harassment.

However, the jury did not find that race was a substantial motivating factor in Sherrard's firing or that Sherrard was terminated in retaliation for his complaints about racial harassment, court records said.

"It seemed to be an incongruous verdict," said Charles F. Printz Jr., an attorney for Corning.

Printz said he was disappointed with the verdict and the company is considering filing an appeal.

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Sherrard could not be reached for comment.

Sherrard, who is black, sued Corning and David Kee, Sherrard's boss, claiming a white hourly employee at the plant pinched him in the behind on Feb. 8 of last year, court records said.

On Feb. 13 last year, a white employee approached Sherrard and stated, "Arturo, I heard you have sweet cheeks," the suit claimed.

On March 8 of last year, a white worker approached Sherrard and slid a nine-inch metal pole up and down his behind, the suit said.

The suit said racial tension mounted among Corning employees after the Feb. 8 incident, and other black salaried employees became targets of harassment by white workers.

When Sherrard expressed dissatisfaction with his supervisors taking the side of the white employee in the Feb. 8, incident, a supervisor canceled his evaluation, the suit said.

Sherrard was later fired and told it due to his job performance, the suit said.

Corning operates a manufacturing plant along U.S. 11 south of Martinsburg.

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