National Catholic Health Care System Has Policy of Punishing Workers Who File Discrimination Charges, Federal Agency Charges
INDIANAPOLIS – Trinity Health Corporation violated federal law by retaliating against employees who file or refuse to drop discrimination charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency charged in a lawsuit it filed today. Trinity Health is a national Catholic health care system which is the parent of St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, a North Central Indiana health care system.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Trinity Health has a policy of refusing to pay severance and/or discontinuing severance payments to workers who file or refuse to drop discrimination charges with the EEOC. The EEOC said Trinity Health refused to provide severance payments and benefits to Becky Thompson, an employee of St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, after learning that she had filed an EEOC charge. The number of other workers affected by this practice is unknown at this time.
Taking adverse actions against an employee who complains of discrimination, files an EEOC charge or otherwise exercises her rights under Title VII or the ADEA violates the retaliation provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The EEOC asserts that the company’s actions were intentional and demonstrated a reckless indifference to the workers’ federally protected rights.
The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 3:11-CV-309 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency is seeking severance payments plus interest, compensatory and punitive damages and liquidated damages against Trinity Health, as well as other relief, including a permanent injunction to prevent the company from engaging in any future retaliation.
“Employers are simply not entitled to punish employees -- or former employees -- for complaining about discrimination,” said Laurie A. Young, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Indianapolis District Office. “If they try to do so, they are only making a bad situation worse for themselves.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.