FLORALA, Ala (WDHN) — A nursing home in Florala is under fire from nine current and former Black employees who claim they were subject to physical and mental racial discrimination from coworkers and residents.
The lawsuit states Black employees would regularly be called the “N” word and “Slaves” by white staff members at Florala Health and Rehabilitation.
The suit was filed by Shekeya Thomas, Angelia Williams, Kierra Blue, Keonna Crittenden, Chantel Mayes, Melissa Hobdy Courtney Love, and Michele Carswell, all Certified Nursing Assistants at the facility, and Cassandra Westry, a Registered Nurse there.
According to the women’s attorneys, Artur Davis and Brian Noble, Black employees were also subject to numerous racist remarks from residents, hearing comments such as “I’m allergic to black people” and “Blacks are meant to serve” after going into a resident’s room. They claim white staff members continually ignored or downplayed the racial hostility from the residents, and management did not take appropriate action.
Davis and Noble say the abuse was also physical, with one white coworker grabbing Crittenden’s hair and calling her “horsehead” and Hobdy being assaulted by a resident with a makeshift knife.
Some residents are prone to lash out at the black CNA staff. A particular resident has struck African-American employees, including Plaintiff Hobdy, and fashioned hand made shanks that he has occasionally used to jab black staffers.Excerpt from Page 9 of the Lawsuit
After being notified of the lawsuit, NHS Management, Florala Health, and Rehabilitation’s parent company, released a short statement but declined to do an interview.
Our attorneys are looking into the substance of the lawsuit and are not commenting on the substance at this time. The values and policies of NHS Management do not tolerate the behaviors we understand are described in this lawsuit.Joe Perkins, Spokesperson for NHS Management
According to the suit, the Black nursing staff would face harsher punishments than their white counterparts, being subject to discipline, write-ups, and threats of being fired over infractions like bringing food or drinks to a workstation or keeping their phones on. The suit compared this to the actions of the white employees, claiming they would be on their phones in the middle of their shifts and take breaks to openly smoke marijuana in the parking lot while on duty.
The staff members also claim Black nursing home residents have received poor care, some left in squalid and substandard conditions. According to the suit, a 105-pound African American patient was left naked on the floor for several hours by white employees, and when Thomas filed a formal complaint on behalf of the patient, she was punished by having her schedule changed, which interfered with her children’s school transport schedule.
The staff members who have filed the lawsuit say there have been multiple written complaints about racist incidents from staff and residents, yet NHS Management ignored them and failed to investigate the incidents or protect the employees, even though they claim to promote a “caring, home-like environment.”
If these women were not so courageous, what they experienced would have been soul crushing. Florala Health and Rehabilitation and its parent company NHS Management knew about the racism and verbal violence but would not stop it; this suit is being brought to hold this company accountable for its indifference to hate.
This lawsuit seeks to hold Florala Health accountable.Attorney Artur Davis
All of the women are requesting a jury trial and significant damages be awarded. Four of the nine women still work at Florala Health and Rehabilitation.
Florala Health and Rehabilitation is owned by NHS Management; its website shows the company owns and operates over four dozen nursing facilities across Alabama, Florida, Missouri, and Arkansas.
You can read the lawsuit below: