Ten black nurses who work for a Stamford-based acute care health care facility have filed a federal lawsuit claiming they get paid less than their “similarly situated” white counterparts.
While the nurses claim out-and-out racial discrimination and violations of both Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, management struck back Wednesday saying the suit was “without merit” and “presents misleading facts.”
Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against workers on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion. It generally applies to employers with 15 or more employees.
The complaint, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, said the nurses learned of the alleged pay disparity in 2016, soon after Long Ridge Post-Acute Care was bought out by the Florida-based nursing home operator, Traditions Senior Management. Long Ridge had previously been owned by HealthBridge. The facility has about 120 beds and is an inpatient, short-term rehabilitation center with services including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, stroke rehabilitation and palliative and hospice care.
The employees were hired as certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses and registered nurses between 1993 and 2015 and, the lawsuit said, are either African-American or black women of Jamaican or Haitian descent.
The lawsuit alleges the plaintiffs told Long Ridge about the alleged pay inequities, but nothing was done.
The lawsuit said: “Defendants confirmed the difference in the rate of pay. Nevertheless, defendants refused to apply prompt, effective remedial measures to correct the discriminatory rates of pay,” The lawsuit also said the “negatively consequential difference in rates of pay is ongoing and continuous.”
While the lawsuit alleges discrimination, Traditions Senior Management said the plaintiffs omit “critical information.”
“The plaintiffs in this suit are members of a union and their pay rates are consistent with the agreement between their employer and the union,” Traditions Senior Management’s general counsel Aaron Bloom wrote in an emailed statement to the Connecticut Law Tribune. “The current employer never set the plaintiffs’ rate of pay, as this is dictated by the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.”
The company’s statement continues: “The employer is confident that these claims will be dismissed.”
The plaintiffs are represented by Daniel Angelone of Angelone Law Offices in Trumbull. Angelone declined to comment Wednesday.
As of Wednesday afternoon an attorney had not been named to represent the defendants.
Under the law, labor and employment specialist attorney Deb McKenna of the Hayber Law Firm said, “You’d have to show a jury it was the defendant’s choice to pay these folks less than their white counterparts and that it was motivated, at least in part, by their race, color or national origin.”
The lawsuit has seven counts, including violations of Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the 10 women. It also seeks to have the defendants pay the plaintiffs’ court costs and attorney fees.