Kevin Anderson, a former employee of Mercy Villa and Mercy Hospital, has filed a lawsuit against the hospital alleging that he was fired for reporting instances of workplace harassment. The lawsuit alleges that Anderson endured a hostile work environment in which other employees called him racial slurs.
Anderson claims that staff referred to him as “boy” and told him that he was not allowed to wear a Mercy Villa t-shirt as part of his uniform despite the fact that other staff routinely did. Anderson’s wife currently works for the hospital and has corroborated claims that white staff members routinely treat black staff inappropriately. To top it off, Mercy Villa is defending itself from complaints filed by a third black employee, but they deny allegations that their employees have acted inappropriately.
Complaints Go Unheeded
Anderson claims that he spoke to the Director of Nursing concerning his treatment as an employee of the hospital. The Director of Nursing was the same individual who told him that he was not allowed to wear his Mercy Villa t-shirt to work. The Director of Nursing, in turn, took no steps to remedy the situation.
Anderson then spoke to a senior human resources manager concerning the work environment. The HR manager advised him to resign from his job before he was fired so that he could be reassigned to a “better work environment” at Mercy Hospital. Mercy Villa is a nursing home connected to the hospital. The HR manager intimated that Mercy Villa had a history of racism and seemed to indicate that Mercy Hospital would be a better fit for him.
After Anderson was transferred to Mercy Hospital, he was pulled into a supervisor’s office. The supervisor indicated that she was aware of the complaints that he filed at Mercy Villa. Anderson was later accused of poor performance in a subsequent performance review. The supervisor stated that other employees were complaining about Anderson’s on-the-job performance, but when Anderson asked them about it, they denied ever having made such claims.
Anderson’s employment was later terminated due to “failure to meet performance standards.”
The Difficulty of Anderson’s Case
Workplaces will never admit to terminating employees because they are members of a protected class. They will always provide some pretext for the termination. In this case, the pretext was poor performance. The job of an employment attorney is to show that the reason given for the termination was only a pretext.
In cases such as these, it often comes down to the employee’s word against the employer’s. While the standard of proof is lower in civil cases than in criminal ones, a plaintiff must still show that it is more likely than not that the cause of the termination was discrimination.
In this case, Anderson’s failure to involve an attorney early in the process may make it more difficult for his legal team to make the case to a jury. Anderson will hopefully be able to produce other employees who were also victims of a hostile work environment at Mercy Villa.
Have You Been the Victim of Workplace Discrimination?
You may be entitled to damages. If you have been unfairly discriminated against, call HKM Employment Attorneys of Kansas City at 816.607.4691, and we will begin discussing your case right away.