The Minnesota Department of Human Rights announced a settlement agreement with a senior living facility, Edgewood Sartell, that violated Minnesota’s civil rights law. The facility is accused of discriminating against Jameisha Cox, a personal care assistant, because of her race.
“Being belittled on a daily basis because of race is sad a reality for Black people,” said Jameisha Cox. “I was blatantly ignored when I raised concerns about being racially harassed. I was ignored again when I was fired because of my race. All I wanted was my job back and nobody cared at all. Now my former employer is being held responsible and has to change their policies so what happened to me doesn’t happen for the next Black person.”
“Jameisha Cox’s case lays bare yet another example of anti-Black racism,” said Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero. “As Minnesota’s civil rights enforcement agency, we continue to work every day to build a state where communities of color and Indigenous communities can thrive by enforcing civil rights law, ending racist practices, and undoing systems that perpetuate racial disparities.”
Throughout her employment as a personal care assistant at Edgewood Sartell, the senior living facility assigned Jameisha Cox, a Black woman, to work with a resident who racially harassed her. The resident made racist and derogatory comments about Cox’s race, skin and hair. The resident shouted racial epithets at Cox and attempted to rip off Cox’s headscarf. When Cox and other employees reported the racial harassment to Cox’s supervisor, the supervisor did nothing. Cox’s supervisor also repeatedly denied Cox’s requests to work with a different resident.
In addition to permitting the racial harassment to occur, the senior living facility fired Cox because of her race. Edgewood Sartell falsely claimed that Cox failed to report to work, when in fact she followed the company’s protocol. Cox requested and her supervisor approved time-off because she was waiting for her next paycheck in order to repair her car that she used to get to work. Edgewood Sartell did not fire white employees who had significant attendance issues.
The senior living facility’s executive director never responded to Cox’s complaint in response to her termination. On November 18, 2018, Cox filed a charge of discrimination with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights alleging racial discrimination. Minnesota has one of the strongest civil rights laws in the country, the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination in employment.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights determined that Edgewood Sartell violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act when the senior living facility discriminated against Cox when it failed to address the racial harassment by the resident and when it fired Cox because of her race.
To address and prevent future racial discrimination from occurring, the settlement requires Edgewood Sartell to:
Amend discrimination and harassment policies to make clear the policies apply to harassing and discriminatory conduct by employees, residents, guests, visitors, vendors, and contractors;
Inform all employees of the updated policies; and
Provide one hour of anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training to all non-supervisory and non-managerial employees, provide 1.5 hours of anti-discrimination and anti-harassment to all of its managers and supervisors, and provide one hour of bias training to all of its employees.
The settlement agreement also requires Edgewood Sartell to pay Cox for lost wages and damages.
(Source: Minnesota Department of Human Rights)