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Monday, January 30, 2023

Black Woman Awarded $1M After Oregon Gas Station Refused Her Service

Rose Wakefield

Nationwide — Rose Wakefield, a 63-year-old African American woman from Portland, Oregon, has been awarded $1 million after the jury found a gas station employee discriminated against her when he refused to pump gas for her and told her, “I don’t serve Black people.”

On March 12, 2020, Wakefield stopped for gas at Jacksons Food Stores in Beaverton and encountered Nigel Powers, an attendant who ignored her and went to other drivers instead to pump gas for them, said Wakefield’s lawyer Gregory Kafoury, according to NBC News.

Kafoury added that Powers told her, “I’ll get to you when I feel like it” when Wakefield asked for assistance. It is required for attendants to pump fuel for motorists at most of the gas stations in Oregon.

Another employee assisted Wakefield after she went inside to ask for assistance, as seen in the surveillance footage. Upon leaving, Wakefield asked Powers why he refused to help her to which he replied, “I don’t serve Black people.”

“I was like, ‘What world am I living in?'” Wakefield told reporters. “This is not supposed to go down like that. It was a terrible, terrible confrontation between me and this guy.”

Wakefield complained to the managers twice during the following week, but her phone calls were ignored and Kafoury alleged her voicemail was erased.

Powers was fired a month later, but for a different reason as he was apparently reprimanded several times for talking on his cell phone.

Meanwhile, Kafoury said Wakefield was just going to let it go at first. He said, “She told her friends that it was too disturbing, and she didn’t want to deal with it. And then she thought about it and said, ‘It’s too wrong. I have to do something about it.'”

After nearly 3 years, the Multnomah County jury awarded her $1 million in damages, including punitive damages of $550,000.

Moreover, Jacksons Food Stores said in a statement that the company has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind and that it respectfully disagrees with the jury’s ruling because “our knowledge does not align with the verdict.”