Judge: South Portland store discriminated against customer

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills awarded a $123,000 judgment to a woman who was discriminated against while trying to shop at a Maine Mall jewelry store.

Portland resident Ryishisa Morris, who is African-American and Native American, sued Piercing Pagoda, a division of Zales Jewelers. She claimed an employee refused to serve her based on her race, and that the employee cursed at her and used other derogatory terms. The incident occurred March 17, 2010.

Before suing, Morris presented her case to the Maine Human Rights Commission, which found in her favor. Morris was represented by Kelly Hoffman, a lawyer with Portland-based Norman, Hanson and DeTroy.

Morris initially won the court case last May 17, and Mills upheld the decision on appeal Nov. 27.

Mills awarded Morris $100,000 and added more than $23,000 for interest, fees and court costs. The award is the maximum allowed by state law in this type of discrimination case, according to Hoffman.