On the 4thof September, the Court of (the state of) Minas Gerais convicted a retired public defender to pay a cleaning woman R$12,400 (US$6,200) for calling her “black (negra), black (preta) and poor.”* The case occurred in February of 2008, in the garage of the building where the retiree lives in the capital city of Belo Horizonte.
According to the maid’s lawyer, Darli Domingos Ribeiro, the two parties reached an agreement after the decision of second instance and the client received R$10,000 (US$5,000) yesterday. The public defender’s lawyer, Caroline Gandra Oliveira, confirmed the agreement but did not disclose the amount.
According to the lawsuit, the cleaning woman reported that she approached the retired defender to inquire about the whereabouts of her daughter who worked in the building. Without reason, the public defender began to berate her with offensive terms.
The maid filed the lawsuit in the 24th Circuit Court of Belo Horizonte against retiree in September 2009.
Still according to the lawsuit, the retired public defender denied the charges and claimed that he merely responded to the housekeeper saying that her daughter was no longer in place. He said the woman was trying to make money and therefore invented the story.
In February 2011, Judge Yeda Monteiro Athias considered that there was sufficient evidence and set the punitive damages at R$7000 (US$3,500). The retiree appealed asking for a reduction in the amount to be paid. The housekeeper also appealed asking for a higher value.
On August 21st, the judges of the 10th Civil Chamber of the TJ-MG decided, by majority vote, to raise the amount of compensation to R$12,440 (US$6,220).
In his opinion, the rapporteur Veiga de Oliveira said the amount “takes into account the proportionality and reasonableness, attending to the punitive-educational-material of the moral damage without configuring exaggeration nor constructing a source of income.”
* – In Brazil, there are two terms that mean black: preta and negra. For militants of Brazil’s Movimento Negro (black civil rights organizations), the term “preta” denotes the actual color while the term “negra” denotes an ethnicity or person of African descent. For some, “negra” can define any person of African descent regardless of phenotype while “preta” can refer to only persons of very dark skin color tightly-coiled afro textured hair. The difference between “negra” and “preta” is somewhat similar to the way the black American community uses the single term black in two ways: meaning a black person in general or a black person of very dark skin tone. For further discussion of Brazilian color terms and racial classification see here.
Source: Folha de Batalha