— African-American Woman forced to exit swimming pool and accused of trespassing because of her race —
LOS ANGELES, CA – Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt, one of Southern California’s premier full-service law firms, has filed a lawsuit against Rosenthal Estate Wines for racial discrimination after the winery forced Jonnae Thompson, an African-American woman, and Marilyn Mercado, to leave its pool during a social event, and threatened to have Thompson arrested for trespassing, while allowing White attendees to use the pool.
“Rosenthal Estate Wines acted maliciously and with no regard of Ms. Thompson and Ms. Mercado’s rights,” said Partner Rodney Diggs. “Their actions were substantially motivated by Ms. Thompson’s race and were downright appalling. Ms. Thompson and Ms. Mercado suffered humiliation, discomfort and extreme emotional distress.”
Thompson attended a Member Social at Rosenthal Estate Wines as a guest of Mercado, a wine club member, on August 27, 2017. Mercado sat at the edge of the wading pool in the center of an outside area, and put her feet in the water as she and many other guests had done at previous social events. After some time, Thompson joined her at the pool, at which point the manager of the estate, a White woman, forced them to leave the pool immediately. Thompson and Mercado then witnessed two White women sit with their feet in the wading pool unbothered for a considerable amount of time before leaving on their own accord.
Later during the event, the manager and four White male employees cornered Mercado and Thompson, demanding to know if Thompson had accused the manager of being a racist. Even after denying these allegations and attempting to deescalate the situation, an Officer of the Estate, a White male, approached Thompson with a camera, claiming that he was recording her because she was being arrested for trespassing. Only after being humiliated and fearing for their safety were Mercado and Thompson able to exit the social.
Mercado, a member of the Rosenthal Wine Club since 2006, had attended almost every quarterly social event held at the winery throughout her 11 years of membership. Over the years she had seen attendees at these events put their feet in the wading pool countless numbers of times and even did so herself on several occasions with no objection. As of August 2017, The Rosenthal Wine Club’s website even displayed promotional photos of White people with their feet in the wading pool at socials.
Founded in 1943, Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt is the largest black-owned law firm in the nation and one of Southern California’s premier full-service law firms, representing a broad range of businesses, public entities and individuals in a vast array of litigation matters and transactions.
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