Provider sued over alleged harassment, discrimination of black employees

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An Indiana skilled nursing and senior living provider is facing allegations that it subjected black employees to slurs and racial discrimination, according to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The suit claims The Village at Hamilton Pointe in Newburgh, IN, and its operator, TLC Management, barred black employees from working in certain residents' rooms based on the residents preferences for non-black caregivers. The EEOC also is arguing that the provider subjected black workers to racial harassment, including being referred to by slurs.

Seven current and former employees claim in the suit that they made complaints to management regarding the harassment, but no actions were taken.

"It is difficult to comprehend that 50 years have elapsed since the adoption of the Civil Rights Act, and employers still do not understand that it is unacceptable to honor the discriminatory racial preferences of some or any of their customers," said Kenneth Lee Bird, regional attorney of the Indianapolis District Office of the EEOC, in the suit's announcement. “When this practice is coupled with racial harassment, it's even worse.”

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial in the case, the Indianapolis Star reported.

Shawn Cates, executive director of The Village at Hamilton Pointe, said in a statement to McKnight's Long-Term Care News that the company does not comment on ongoing litigation, but that the complaint's “allegations are without merit, and we intend to vigorously defend this case.”

“Hamilton Pointe is an Equal Opportunity Employer, and the company takes its obligations to its employees seriously,” Cates said. “We will continue to focus on our employees and our mission to provide high quality medical care to our residents.”