Napa Valley Wine Train Battles Discrimination Lawsuit as It Launches an LGBT-Friendly Tour

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The Napa Valley Wine Train faces an $11 million discrimination lawsuit months after an African American book club was kicked off

Can the Napa Valley Wine Train regain a reputation as an open-minded touring company? 

The Napa Valley Wine Train company faces an $11 million discrimination lawsuit after an incident last October in which a group of African American women, who were part of a book club, were kicked off the wine train for being too rowdy. The hearing begins today in San Francisco.

According to a manager, the group was being “aggressive and unruly,” but according to the 11 women, they were simply talking loudly and having a good time. Their attorney claims that lies were made up by the Napa Valley Wine Train in an act of blatant discrimination.

"There were [social media] postings made by wine train company that said these women physically and verbally abused passengers on train," he told ABC News. The Facebook posts were later deleted, and an apology was issued by the Napa Valley Wine Train’s CEO. The company has hired an agent to look into the matter and is conducting a private investigation to determine if racial discrimination was the root cause.

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At the same time that this lawsuit appears in court, the Napa Valley Wine Train — perhaps coincidentally — has launched an LGBT-focused tour, “Pride Ride,” which features “the Bay Area’s most prominent LGBT wine experts.” Proceeds will go toward The Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation, which helps disenfranchised, homeless LGBT youth and offers HIV/AIDS screenings.