North Dakota hospital settles EEOC racial harassment suit for $45K

A critical access hospital in North Dakota will pay $45,000 to settle a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit accusing it of illegally discharging an African American employee after she reported racial harassment.

Elgin, N.D.-based Jacobson Memorial Hospital Care Center allegedly fired a Black nursing aide in retaliation six days after she reported that a co-worker called her the "n-word" in May 2019,  which violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to the EEOC.

The settlement to resolve the lawsuit also requires the hospital to adopt and distribute anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation policies; post a notice informing employees of the settlement; provide specialized training to all employees on the federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination; and report to and allow federal officials to monitor complaints of racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation, according to the commission.

"Title VII protects an employee's right to speak out when they experience discrimination or harassment," Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC's Chicago District, said in a news release. "The EEOC is pleased that the nursing aide has been compensated and that Jacobson has agreed to the non-monetary relief set out in the consent decree to prevent racial harassment and retaliation in the future."

Kristin Heid, COO of Jacobson, declined to comment.

Editor's note: This story was updated on April 17.


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