Discrimination settlement reached

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The Minnesota Department of Human Rights reached a settlement agreement with Edgewood Sartell. The senior living facility violated Minnesota’s civil rights law by discriminating against Jameisha Cox, a personal care assistant, because of her race. 

“Being belittled on a daily basis because of race is a sad reality for Black people,” said Jameisha Cox in a statement from the human rights department. “I was blatantly ignored when I raised concerns about being racially harassed. I was ignored again when I was fired because of my race.”

Racial discrimination in employment is consistently one of the largest areas of complaints the Department of Human Rights receives.

Throughout her employment as a personal care assistant at Edgewood Sartell, the senior living facility assigned 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, according to the settlement. 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, according to a statement from the Human Rights Department. 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 Nov. 18, 2018, Cox filed a charge of discrimination with the Department of Human Rights alleging racial discrimination. 

On Dec. 31, 2019, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights determined 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 anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training to employees and one hour of bias training.

The settlement also requires Edgewood Sartell to pay Cox for lost wages and damages.

Author: Mike Knaak

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