Laid-off HCMC workers drop discrimination claims but continue lawsuit

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Minneapolis-based Hennepin County Medical Center and the union representing employees who were reassigned or laid off earlier in 2017 reached a settlement, reports the Star Tribune.

The medical center and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees reached the agreement Tuesday. Under the agreement, HCMC must follow existing labor laws and post those laws in a public location, union spokesperson Jennifer Munt told the Star Tribune. According to the report, the agreement also calls for two union leaders to return to work, and "for disputes with other workers to be settled through grievance and arbitration procedures."

The medical center announced in February plans to cut the equivalent of 131 full-time jobs through layoffs. The move represented about 2 percent of the hospital's staff, including union employees in various departments. Laid-off or reassigned union employees subsequently challenged the layoffs and alleged discrimination in a lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleged a disproportionate number of affected union workers were minorities, women or older employees, the report states. Employees ultimately wanted a temporary injunction "to stop the employer from continuing to commit unfair labor practices," Ms. Munt told the Star Tribune.

In an emailed statement to Becker's Hospital Review, HCMC said the union "has withdrawn its request for an injunction and has dismissed its claims of discrimination."

"As we have said all along, in laying off union employees HCMC does not have discretion in selecting who will be laid-off. HCMC is required to lay off employees based on seniority and the provisions of the labor agreements. HCMC is confident that it complied with the labor agreements and all applicable laws in conducting this layoff," the medical center added.

Although a settlement was reached, the lawsuit, which accuses HCMC of hostility against the union, will continue, according to the report.

"The bottom line is the workers feel some justice has been served," Ms. Munt told the Star Tribune. "The brunt of the layoffs impacted older workers, mostly people of color. We're going to assist those individuals if they choose to file potential discrimination claims with the" U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.




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