PORTLAND, Ore. — A jury awarded an Oregon woman $1 million in damages after finding out she was discriminated against by a gas station attendant who told her, «I don’t serve black people.»

The Multnomah County jury’s award this week to 63-year-old Portland resident Rose Wakefield included punitive damages of $550,000.

Wakefield’s attorney, Gregory Kafoury, said she stopped to get gas at Jacksons Food Store in Beaverton on March 12, 2020, and saw the attendant, Nigel Powers, ignore her and instead pump gas for other drivers.

When she tried to call for help, he said, «I’ll contact you whenever I feel like it,» according to Kafoury.

Attendants are required to pump fuel. for motorists at gas stations in Oregon’s largest population centers, including Portland and the nearby suburb of Beaverton.

Surveillance video showed Wakefield went inside to call for help. Another employee followed her back outside to pump gas out of her. Kafoury said that as she was leaving, Wakefield asked Powers why she refused to help her and he said, «I don’t serve black people.»

Rose Wakefield.
Rose Wakefield.KGW

“I was like, ‘What world am I living in?’ wakefield saying KGW. “This is not supposed to be like this. It was a terrible, terrible confrontation between me and this guy.»

Over the next week, Wakefield twice complained to managers, but his phone calls were largely ignored, Kafoury said.

Powers was fired a month after corporate records showed he had been written out multiple times for talking on a cell phone, Kafoury said.

«Milisecond. Wakefield was originally going to let this slide,» Kafoury said. «He told his friends it was too disruptive and he didn’t want to deal with it. And then he thought about it and said, ‘It’s too bad. I have to do something about it.’ regard. «

A statement from Jacksons Food Stores on Thursday said the company has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind and respectfully disagrees with the jury’s ruling because «our knowledge does not align with the verdict.»

“After carefully reviewing all the facts and evidence, including video surveillance, we decided to take this matter to trial because we feel comfortable based on our knowledge that the service-related concern actually reported by the customer was promptly investigated and addressed. ”, the statement says. .

The company did not elaborate, but Kafoury said Powers was never questioned by the company about the racist comments and was only disciplined for not serving customers on a first-come, first-served basis.

Efforts to contact Powers were unsuccessful.