The New York State Attorney General’s office reached a settlement in March 2014 with the Betsy Ross Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Rome, New York after an investigation revealed that the facility discriminated against numerous African-American employees in order to accommodate the requests of a racist patient. According to the Attorney General’s office, a resident at the 120-bed nursing home refused to be treated or seen by any African-American staff. The nursing home accommodated the patient’s racist requests by assigning all African-American staff members to other parts of the building. African-Americans were prohibited from working in the patient’s unit, and a sign that read “No Colored Nurses” was posted on the unit’s wall.
After receiving multiple complains from African-American employees at Betsy Ross, the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau began an investigation into the facility’s racist practices and policies. The bureau determined that Betsy Ross violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New York State Human Rights Law, which bars employers from discriminating against employees based upon race or color.
As part of the settlement, the nursing home will be required to implement a comprehensive anti-discrimination policy. The facility will also be required to hire a third-party consultant to provide training to staff and workers about diversity and discrimination in the workplace. In addition, the nursing home must post signs in highly visible areas throughout the facility that state that the facility is committed to enforcing anti-discrimination policies. Moreover, the nursing home must develop new policies and procedures for reporting cases of discrimination, as well as providing reports to the Attorney General’s office for three years. Finally Betsy Ross agreed not to retaliate against any employees who participated in the investigation.
Commenting on the settlement, Marc Morial, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Urban League, said, “Each day, we are confronted with bitter reminders of ongoing discrimination faced by African-American and other underserved communities in the workplace. I applaud the Attorney General’s office for enforcing our anti-discrimination laws and taking steps to ensure that all employees are treated equally, regardless of race.”
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said that the settlement underscores his commitment to ending discrimination in the workplace. He remarked, “The fact that nearly 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, some New Yorkers are still subject to racial discrimination at work–or anywhere–is shocking and unacceptable. Sadly, this case demonstrates that racism is still alive, and that we must be aggressive and unwavering in rooting out racial discrimination by employers.”