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Suit Claims Restrooms Segregated At School

Thu., March 23, 1995

Black lunchroom workers were expected to use racially segregated bathrooms at two public schools, their lawyer told jurors Wednesday.

A lawyer for the school board denied there was intentional segregation or any other kind of discrimination in the schools of the affluent Birmingham suburb of Mountain Brook.

Three black women and the estate of a fourth, all former cafeteria workers at Mountain Brook High School, contend in their federal civil rights lawsuit that they were pressured into using the “black” bathroom.

One plaintiff claims the same practice occurred at an elementary school in the district. They are seeking unspecified damages.

After closing statements, the jury of three blacks and four whites deliberated for an hour before the judge sent them home for the night.

Both schools had two virtually identical bathrooms side-by-side in the kitchen area. While they were not labeled, plaintiff Sherron Johnson testified, it was common knowledge that the bathroom on the right was for blacks while the one on the left was for whites.

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