A Waterloo hospital is paying two-million dollars to settle a class-action discrimination lawsuit. The suit was filed in December of 2010 by a black woman who claimed Allen Hospital turned her down for several job openings. Hospital spokesman Jim Waterbury says they wanted to settle the lawsuit and move forward.
“We’ve agreed that we’re going to settle this matter because if we took it to trial, that would be long and it would be very expensive and most importantly, it would be divisive in the community and we don’t want to do that,” Waterbury says. “That’s not consistent with Allen and that’s not consistent with who we are and what we want to be.”
Waterbury says the hospital does not admit to any wrongdoing in the settlement. It is also establishing a $2-million fund to pay those who are eligible who were denied jobs or advancement or were harassed because of race at the hospital, over a three-year period, starting from November 2008.
“Nobody knows whether there will be any additional complaints for the period that’s under review, which is 36 months,” he says. “If there are complaints, then a two-person panel plus (a judge) will all look at them and decide whether they have merit.” The woman who filed the suit, Robyn Meeks, was reinstated as a nurse at Allen Hospital last month.
As a part of the settlement, she will receive back pay, plus $10,000 from the fund for emotional distress. Waterbury says Allen Hospital has always tried to provide equal opportunities for applicants and for its employees.
By Jesse Gavin, KCNZ, Cedar Falls