Monday, June 15, 2009

LEGAL BRIEF: Medical Center Will Pay $85k to Settle Race Discrimination and Retaliation Suit

The Legal Brief gives everyone an idea of some of the types of cases that EEOC litigates, provides information on anti-discrimination legal proceedings/court rulings, and identifies some of the specific race-based issues that other Blacks have faced and challenged in the workplace. The Legal Brief also provides insight into the arguments presented by EEOC and the defenses offered by employers. This information may be helpful to workers, who may be considering filing a complaint or seeking legal counsel, as well as to employees who feel they are becoming embroiled in race-related issues at work.

This legal brief will probably sound familiar to many readers. A Black worker could immediately tell that her direct supervisor disliked her because of her race. I know some non-Black people wonder how we can possible know the source of someone’s displeasure with us. They think we are race-baiting, when we talk about the reasons we’ve been targeted by a supervisor or coworker. What they fail to remind themselves is that we’ve been Black our whole lives. Our “body of work” has long taught us how to identify overt racism AND how to pick up on signs of covert racism.

What people fail to realize is that racists often aren’t as smart as they think they are. They don’t get away with acts of workplace racism because they were geniuses. They get away with acts of racism because of tolerance and encouragement of racism and systemic issues in some workplaces, they get away with racism because of intimidation and fear, they get away with racism because of legal requirements of proof, which may be hard to meet for some victims because they didn’t know what to document or how to communicate about what was happening, and they get away with it for many other reasons.

SMARTS is not often one of the reasons they succeed in targeting non-White workers. Racists are protected by companies that refuse to be accountable for what's taken place on the job and who fear financial liability for what they KNOW happened at the job. So, a racist is often protected with false statements and positive character references and by hiding past incidences and marginalizing what they've done. But, this is done to protect the company. Again, it's not being done because the harasser was outsmarting everyone. Everyone knows what the truth is. One side, the powerful business with more resources, has the means to make the truth appear to be different. And, in that reality, NOTHING HAPPENED and our racist is a great person.

Anyway, this Black worker was targeted immediately by her supervisor and was later fired for complaining about the denial of a promotion and harassment. Read below for full details:



Medical Center Unlawfully Fired Black Woman Who Complained About Race Discrimination, EEOC Charged

DETROIT – Muskegon Family Care, a family medical center, has agreed to pay $85,280 and provide substantial injunctive relief to settle a race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit (Civil Action No. 1:08-CV-618, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan), Muskegon Family Care subjected Iris Towers, an African American supervisor at its Getty Road clinic, to race discrimination and retaliation by failing to promote her and firing her after she complained about ongoing racial harassment. From the start of her employment, the EEOC said, Towers faced an uphill battle because her direct supervisor displayed an immediate and ongoing dislike towards her because of her race. Even though Muskegon Family Care was aware of the discriminatory animus Towers’s supervisor harbored against her, it allowed the harassment to continue and let the boss terminate her as punishment for the complaint.

Race discrimination and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.

The three-year consent decree settling the case requires Muskegon Family Care to pay $85,280 to Towers and to institute new anti-discrimination policies and procedures. Muskegon Family Care is also required to conduct annual training for all of its employees on Title VII’s requirements; post a notice to employees at the clinics about the decree; provide reports to the EEOC regarding its training; and permit the EEOC to monitor its compliance by allowing the agency to enter and inspect its clinics during normal business hours.

“This is a favorable resolution for everyone,” explained EEOC attorney Nedra Campbell. “Muskegon Family Care has committed to making significant changes that should be beneficial to both current and future employees as well as the medical center.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at


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