Dental director’s alleged antiracial justice remarks spur lawsuit

Gavel Scale Lawsuit

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has sued a health clinic, alleging it fired a Black employee after she complained about its dental director’s negative remarks about racial justice protests associated with the Black Lives Matter movement.

On June 15, the EEOC New Orleans Field Office filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana a race harassment and retaliation lawsuit against the Council for the Advancement of Social Services and Education, doing business as CASSE Community Health Institute, in Shreveport, LA, according to an EEOC press release dated June 16.

The suit accuses the clinic of violating Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it subjected a Black employee to a hostile work environment and fired her after she complained about racially offensive workplace conduct, according to the release.

“In order to achieve Title VII’s promise of a discrimination-free workplace, workers must be able to safely complain about racial discrimination without fear of reprisal,” Michael Kirkland, director of the EEOC’s New Orleans Field Office, said in the release.

In addition to allegedly making racially insensitive comments in the wake of racial justice protests in June 2020, the employee also claimed that the dental director proposed wearing blackface and going out to loot and riot, according to the release. Furthermore, the suit claims that the dental director singled out the alleged victim as the only Black employee in a room full of white coworkers and questioned whether she attended the protests. After CASSE’s CEO learned about the employee’s internal complaint, she was immediately placed on unpaid administrative leave and terminated, according to the release.

“Making racially charged comments – and singling out Black employees about whether they participate in racial justice protests at a time of well-known racial tensions in the community – can fundamentally worsen workplace conditions for Black workers,” Elizabeth Owen, a senior trial attorney in the EEOC’s New Orleans Field Office, said in the release.

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