A writer who lost her book deal after she shamed a Black transit worker for eating on a train is suing her publisher for $13 million.
Jordanian-American author Natasha Tynes drew backlash after she tweeted a photo of the female transit worker eating her breakfast on the D.C.-area Metro Rail.
“When you’re on your morning commute & see @wmata employee in UNIFORM eating on the train I thought we were not allowed to eat on the train. This is unacceptable. Hope @wmata responds,” Tynes tweeted in May.
A spokesperson for Metro Rail responded on Twitter, asking Tynes for more information to help them identify the worker.
Outraged Black Twitter users flooded Tyne’s timeline with insults and racial slurs. The attacks forced Tynes to take her Twitter page private.
Book publisher Rare Bird immediately responded to the controversy on Twitter.com by condemning Tynes for harassing the transit worker. The publishing house said it was cancelling Tynes’s book deal.
Tynes “did something truly horrible today in tweeting a picture of a metro worker eating her breakfast on the train this morning and drawing attention to her employer,” Rare Bird tweeted. “Black women face a constant barrage of this kind of inappropriate behavior directed toward them and a constant policing of their bodies.”
A transit worker union official also responded on Twitter, saying the female employee was taking a break while commuting from one job to another.
The union official added that Metro Transit police no longer enforce the ban on eating and drinking on trains.
Tynes later apologized and deleted her tweet. She also took down her personal website.
Lawyers for Tynes pulled the race card, calling Rare Bird an “an all-white company,” and saying it inaccurately portrayed an “immigrant woman of color” as a racist.
She is seeking $13.4 million in damages.
Rare Bird’s attorney David S. Eisen told USA Today that Tynes’ suit was ‘baseless,’ adding that she is suffering from the consequences of her own actions.
“It is ironic that, having taken advantage of her First Amendment rights with an ill-advised tweet, Ms. Tynes now seeks to stifle and punish use of those very same rights of a respected book publisher who legitimately expressed its opinions of her conduct, rather than take responsibility for her own actions,” Eisien said.