Laid-off workers accuse Hennepin County Medical Center of discrimination

Kelly Gooch - Print  | 

Minneapolis-based Hennepin County Medical Center faces allegations from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees of discriminating against union employees who were reassigned or laid off earlier this year, according to the Star Tribune.

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.

Now laid-off or reassigned union employees are challenging the layoffs via a lawsuit and a petition presented to the medical center's CEO, Jon Pryor, MD, reports the Star Tribune.

Jennifer Munt, a union spokeswoman, contends a disproportionate number of affected union workers were minorities, women or older employees, the report states. But HCMC defended itself in an emailed statement to Becker's Hospital Review.

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

Aside from the layoff, the lawsuit and petition question how the hospital determined job transfers for some senior employees, according to the report. The report as an example cites a reassigned employee who lost his more supervisory role. According to the report, the employee claims age and union status could have been involved in the decision.

The union employees ultimately seek a temporary injunction against the layoffs and reassignments, according to the report. A district court hearing has been scheduled for April 18.

 

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