Published : Thursday, December 20, 2018 | 2:31 PM
Two former nurses who worked in the labor and delivery unit at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena held a press conference with their attorneys Thursday to describe a lawsuit against the hospital alleging the pair were harassed and later terminated because of their race.
Attorneys at Hilaire McGriff said their clients, Martha Beltran and Veronica Loving, as well as other African-American nurses and an African-American doctor, began to experience discrimination after the labor and delivery department hired two new supervisors in late 2017 and early this year.
In the lawsuit filed before the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Beltran and Loving said the hospital failed to prevent discrimination against African-American and Latina nurses.
The nurses also alleged at least 13 nurses submitted an internal complaint to management raising concerns about discrimination in the hospital. The complaint was not investigated, the lawsuit claimed.
In the complaint, the group said they “strongly believe that this aggression is racially motivated.”
“We don’t think that a small group of nurses like to see women of color in positions of authority,” the nurses wrote. “As a group, we have felt discriminated, belittled, insulted and segregated because of our race.”
Beltran, who began working at the hospital in 1984 as a housekeeper before earning a degree and becoming a registered nurse, said she was fired in January this year after meeting with officials of the human resources department who told her a colleague had complained about her conduct.
The complaint was anonymous, and she was never given a chance to defend herself, Beltran said.
The supervisor allegedly summoned her for another meeting where they told her of additional anonymous complaints, Beltran added. She was terminated a short time later.
Loving started working as a nurse in the labor and delivery unit in 2011. In the complaint, she said she received accolades and satisfactory performance evaluations for several years, but that changed when the two new supervisors came on board to oversee the unit.
Loving said she was fired after the hospital alleged ignored her request to assign an additional nurse at the unit on May 19, for safety reasons. The termination letter said she was being fired because of charting errors that occurred on the day she wrote the request.
In an email statement sent to Pasadena Now Thursday, Dorey Huston, Public Relations & Media Manager at the Huntington Hospital said it maintains a “strict non-discrimination policy” in their hiring and human resources practices.
“In accordance with this policy, we treat any discrimination claim seriously,” the statement said. “Such claims are fully investigated in compliance with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements. As a matter of policy, we do not comment publicly on confidential personnel matters.”
In June this year, a woman sued Huntington Hospital for discrimination saying she was allegedly denied interviews for a job as a phlebotomist for more than two years because of her being African-American. In late 2016, she submitted an application under a different name and racial profile, and was soon offered an interview, she said.
The hospital was also recently investigated for allowing Dr. Patrick Sutton, a prominent Pasadena obstetrician, to continue practicing amid years of complaints that he alleged mistreated patients. A Los Angeles Times investigation revealed more than 20 women had complained about the mistreatment, with the allegations dating to 1989 when Sutton started working at the hospital.
Sutton has denied the allegations.