Latino Student to Keep $1M Award Over Harassment Case

Lauren Williams's picture
Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Latino student will keep his $1 million after a federal appeals panel upheld a ruling that found he was demeaned and threatened at his New York school and the district did little to stop it.

Anthony Zeno had won one of the biggest awards ever for racial harassment in high school. The school district had appealed the ruling, claiming the award was unreasonable and that they did all they could to stop the harassment. But the decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan left in place the award for Zeno, a former student at Stissing Mountain High School in Dutchess County.

The award had been reduced from the $1.25 million a jury originally awarded the now 23-year-old haircutter during a 2010 trial. The appeals court said the award wasn't unreasonable given that payouts for harassment in similar cases have ranged from the low six figures to $1 million in one other instance.

The appeals court's opinion noted that Zeno is "dark-skinned and biracial, half-white, half-Latino." It said he "had been menaced, threatened and taunted" at a school where minorities represented less than 5 percent of the student population.

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