Hospice Provider To Pay $50,000 To Settle EEOC Suit For National Origin Discrimination, Retaliation

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Delaware Corporation which provides hospice services nationwide will pay a former employee’s estate $50,000 to settle a discrimination suit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The EEOC’s lawsuit, Civil Action No. SA09CA0796PM, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division, alleges that VistaCare, Inc. subjected a Latino registered nurse at Kerrville, Texas facility to discriminatory treatment because of his national origin. The nurse lodged a verbal complaint about the company’s vice president / general manager making ethnically derogatory comments about him and that she was attempting to get him fired. Subsequently, the nurse filed a charge with the EEOC, alleging that the vice president had referred to him by ethnic slurs, attempted to block his pay raises and promotion, had made negative comments on his work evaluation and was attempting to get him fired, all because of his national origin. Shortly after filing the charge, VistaCare fired him as retaliation, the EEOC reported.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on national origin and protects employees who report or oppose such discriminatory conduct from retaliation. After the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office determined that VistaCare had violated Title VII, the EEOC filed suit after attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The nurse has since passed away.

Besides the monetary award, VistaCare agreed to post a notice of intent to comply with all the provisions of Title VII. As part of the consent decree resolving the suit (entered by Magistrate Judge Pamela A. Mathy), VistaCare also agreed to implement an effective anti-discrimination policy and to provide training to all of its managers, supervisors and human resources personnel regarding Title VII.

“We are pleased that VistaCare recognizes its responsibility as an employer to comply with federal law and to make employment decisions based on merit, without regard to national origin,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Eduardo Juarez. “The EEOC is hopeful that the anti-discrimination training agreed to by VistaCare will not only emphasize its commitment to comply with Title VII, but that the company will also take affirmative steps to create an environment which prohibits national origin-based discrimination and retaliation.”

“It is important for an employee to know that he can raise concerns about what are believed to be discriminatory practices without having to risk his job security in the process,” said Supervisory Trial Attorney Judith G. Taylor of the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office. “The best way for management to address such concerns is a sincere inquiry as opposed to yielding to feelings of resentment. We are confident that the constructive approach going forward will result in a workplace where employees feel safe when making inquiries about fair treatment.”

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