Four women in Georgia are suing a nursing-service company for alleged civil rights violations by not allowing black nurses to care for white patients.
The women are suing Accord Services, a Marietta company that hires nurses and nurse aides to work in private homes.
“Accord employs a policy of illegal discrimination in the hiring and placement of its home healthcare employees for the express purpose of accommodating the illegal preferences of its clients,” the lawsuit alleges.
Accord has denied the allegations.
The lawsuit alleges that Accord “routinely declined to place nurses and nurse aides they described as ‘too black’ or ‘too foreign’ or ‘too old.’”
Tracee Goodman, one of the plaintiffs, worked in human resources at Accord for more than two years. Administrators routinely asked her about the race and age of applicants, giving preference to white applicants, she told ABC News.
Goodman, who is African-American, said she noticed in payment reports that there was a pay difference between black nurses and white nurses and raised the issue with her bosses. Instead of addressing her complaint, she said, they simply took that part of her job away from her.
“The more concerns I raised about racially based hiring practices, my duties were slowly dwindling,” Goodman said. “[Eventually], they hired someone else and moved me.”
Goodman was allegedly told she complained too much and that she should choose whether to stay or go. She left. “I worked in health care for 10 years,” Goodman said. “I know you can’t staff according to race.”
Goodman said she and the other plaintiffs were often told by administrators that is was their business and, “We’re not going to walk on eggshells.”
Goodman said, “You may not want to tiptoe around, but you still have to follow the law.”
The lawsuit alleges that the women were “subjected to pernicious, offensive, and degrading race-based comments on a near daily basis throughout their respective employment at Accord, during the staffing meetings they attended and frequently throughout the workday.”
Goodman said that in staff meetings, administrators would openly say things like, “We can’t send a black person to that house,” and, “You know this client would not accept a black girl.”
Freddy Allen, an administrator at Accord, denied the allegations made in the lawsuit.
“I read the allegation, and it’s completely false,” Allen told ABC News’ Atlanta affiliate WSB-TV. “All the allegations are coming from a few disgruntled employees who either resigned or we let go.”
Allen told WSB-TV that the company had multiple black nurses who have worked for the company for a long time.
Although the lawsuit calls for money damages, Goodman said she is not concerned with the money. “My main goal is just to let them know that they cannot treat people like this,” Goodman said. “You can’t discriminate against people, not today.”
Some of the women gave their depositions today, but no court date has been set.