A senior living community in Minnesota denies wrongdoing but will amend its discrimination and harassment policies and provide anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and bias training to employees to settle a discrimination case with a former employee who alleged that the community permitted racial harassment and fired her because of her race.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights said it found probable cause that Edgewood Sartell, an assisted living and memory care community in Sartell, MN, violated the state’s civil rights law by discriminating against Jameisha Cox, a personal care assistant at the community, because of her race.
An Edgewood Sartell representative denied Cox’s allegations and said there was no merit to the state’s findings in connection with its investigation into the matter.
“Edgewood Sartell denies that discrimination or harassment based on race or any other protected class occurred, or that it violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act or any other law,” Hollie Britten, corporate marketing and business development manager, told McKnight’s Senior Living.
“Edgewood Sartell is committed to equal employment opportunity for all individuals, and a workplace free from unlawful discrimination and harassment,” she continued. “It only reached a settlement in this matter to minimize the time, attorney fees and costs that it would otherwise expend in addressing this dispute.”
Cox filed a charge of discrimination with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights on Nov. 18, 2018, alleging racial discrimination. Cox, a Black woman, said that throughout her employment with Edgewood Sartell, which began in 2017, she was assigned 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,” the state said in a release. When Cox and fellow employees reported the harassment, no action was taken, and a supervisor “repeatedly denied Cox’s requests to work with a different resident,” according to the state.
The Department of Human Rights further contends that the community fired Cox because of her race and falsely claimed that Cox did not report to work “when in fact she followed the company’s protocol.” Cox requested and received approval to take time off due to car trouble, according to the department.
Additionally, the state contends that Edgewood Sartell “did not fire white employees who had significant attendance issues.” Further, the community’s executive director did not respond to Cox’s complaint in response to her employment termination.
Cox said she was “blatantly ignored” when she raised concerns about being racially harassed.