A former Fountain Circle Health and Rehabilitation Center employee has filed suit against the facility’s parent company, Kindred Nursing Centers, for wrongful termination.
Deshanna Baker filed suit June 1 in Clark Circuit Court, claiming race discrimination and retaliation after she reported alleged misconduct by another employee.
According to the complaint, Baker was repeatedly harrassed because of her race. Although the actions were reported, Baker said no disiciplinary action was taken. After reporting that a co-worker overheard another employee refuse to care for a patient, and use a racial slur, she began to experience retaliation, Baker said. According to the complaint, she “began to suffer disciplinary actions to which other non-African American co-workers were not subject to.”
Baker was hired as a licensed practical nurse Aug. 8, 2009, and was employed by Fountain Circle until March 4, 2011. The official reason for termination, according to nursing home documents, was failure to change a patient’s tracheotomy dressing. At approximately 8 a.m. March 2, 2011, a respiratory therapist reported that a resident’s tracheotomy dressing did not look like it had been changed during the night shift, the document stated. Company policy states tracheotomy dressings are supposed to be changed every shift. Baker claims she was not working when the incident allegedly occurred, but was notified via telephone March 2 that an investigation was conducted and she was suspended.
The complaint states, “Plaintiff’s employment proceeded without difficulty or complaint until approximately March 2010.” At that time, according to the complaint, Baker “began to experience harassment and discrimination on the basis of her race.”
Beginning in February 2011, Baker said she was assigned duties not in her job description, including those routinely performed by nurses aides.
Kindred officials could not be reached for comment.
Fountain Circle Executive Director Elizabeth Smith said in an email that Fountain Circle could not comment on pending litigation, but “resident care and safety is our No. 1 concern.”
Baker is still currently unemployed and said she is looking for a nursing position. Kindred twice appealed her claims for unemployment insurance, but the Kentucky Division of Unemployment ruled in her favor both times. According to Division of Unemployment documents, “unsatisfactory work must be accompanied by willful or wanton acts or omissions. Also, in cases of this nature, it is the general rule that a worker should be warned about this action before an abrupt dismissal.”
In a previous interview, former Fountain Circle employee Heather Curtis said she believed Baker was “falsely accused.” She also spoke on Baker’s behalf at the unemployment hearing.
Baker also contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and received a “right to sue” letter prior to filing her complaint in June. According to the EEOC letter, “Based upon its investigation, the EEOC is unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violation of the statutes. This does not certify that the respondent is in compliance with the statutes. No finding is made as to any other issues that might be construed as having been raised by this charge.”
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