LANSING (WWJ/AP) – A judge has ordered the Michigan Department of Human Services to pay nearly $50,000 in attorney fees in a case brought after someone placed a 5-foot toy ape atop the cubicle of a black employee.
The fees ordered Wednesday by Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina are in addition to $21,000 she earlier ordered in fines.
The orders stemmed from a 2010 discrimination lawsuit filed by Crystal Perry — who claims the ape was placed on the cubicle days after she met with her supervisor, a white man, to talk about why she wasn’t being promoted.
In January, Aquilina found there was no evidence that discrimination caused Perry to not be promoted. Aquilina, however, ordered the department to pay $1,000 for every day the toy was left atop Perry’s office cubicle in 2009 and attorney fees.
Perry, 47, of Eaton County’s Delta Township, called it a racially motivated attack, arguing that white workers were promoted ahead of her. Her supervisor at the DHS child support office told her he didn’t know who placed the toy there, and the toy remained on the cubicle for about three weeks.
Perry said she didn’t take the toy down herself because she was worried she would be criticized.
“It truly belittled me. It just made me feel less than a person,” she said.
The state says there was no evidence that the toy ape incident was racial in origin.
Perry still works for DHS, but in a different division.
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