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Former employees file suits against Navajo Nation Medical Center November 26, 2006

Posted by C.A.R.D in Card, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, Discriminate, Discrimination, Race, Racism, Racist, Sexism.

GALLUP β€” Several current and former employees of Navajo Nation Medical Center have filed complaints in U.S. federal court claiming that they have been subjected to discrimination on the basis of race and retaliation, and discrimination on the basis of sex.

All four plaintiff’s are have filed against Michael O. Leavitt, secretary of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and are being represented by Donald G. Gilpin, attorney for Gilpin & Keefe, P.C. of Albuquerque.

The plaintiffs in the suits include Isabelle Castillo-Kee, Steven Miller, Fernando Nakai and Beverley Farley.

The complaints are as follows:
Castillo-Kee, a registered nurse who has been employed at the hospital since October 1993 filed her complaint Nov. 13.In the complaint, Castillo-Kee states that she was subjected to a hostile environment where her supervisor, physicians, and co-workers would use foul language in the operating room. Castillo-Kee states within the compliant that she has been called a “b**ch”, and a “f-ing b**ch”.

In November 2004, Castillo-Kee claims that a physician threw a piece of wadded paper into her bra, and then touched her inappropriately, and Castillo-Kee told the physician to never touch her again. The complaint also states that Castillo-Kee was shoved against the wall by a physician in the operating room, and was subjected to jokes and comments of a sexual nature. The complaint does not list any specific co-workers names.

After filing a complaint with the EEOC, Castillo-Kee said the hostile work environment intensified, where she was yelled at and unjustly disciplined.

She is asking for compensatory damages for mental anguish and humiliation, and cost of attorney fees.

Dr. Steven Miller, a former surgeon at NNMC., who began working at the hospital in May 2002, filed a complaint in federal court Nov. 3.Miller, an Anglo, claims he was subjected to harassment, ongoing discrimination, and subsequent termination because he was dating a female Navajo co-worker.

In the compliant, Miller states he began a romantic relationship with a Navajo female employee, Beverley Farley, in December 2003.

Less than three weeks after the relationship began, the staff was informed of the relationship by a flyer distributed by Farley’s ex-husband. Within days, Miller states that he began being treated differently by the Center’s administration and staff. Miller stated that he was physically threatened by another physician because of the relationship, and that he was told by staff that CEO Carla Baha-Alchesay wanted to get rid of him. In February 2004, he claims he was forced to step down from his position as Chief of Surgical Department.

The compliant also states that Miller had his medical privileges revoked and his annual pay reduced by approximately $80,000. Miller was then was then placed on administrative leave and terminated on Sept. 16, 2005.

Miller is asking for punitive damages for malicious actions against him, mental anguish and humiliation, and attorney fees. Miller has also made a demand for a jury trial in the case.

Fernando Nakai, a Navajo who first started working in April 2004 as a Mental Health Technician filed Sept. 20.Nakai claims that in late June, he attended a staff retreat, and informed his supervisor, Dr. Stolzfus that he made other arrangements for lunch. The complaints states that he went to the retreat, but attended lunch on his own, and later took an allowed 15 minute break away from the retreat.

Two weeks later, Nakai was charged with being AWOL for one hour and fifteen minutes of the retreat, and was told he was being terminated. Nakai filed the charge because he heard of other non-Navajo employees of the department had been charged with being AWOL, but were not terminated.

Because Nakai feared a termination would interfere with being hired at other government jobs, he claims he was forced to resign.

In October 2005, Nakai became aware of vacancy for his old position and applied, but was not selected, despite his experience and education. Nakai filed a second charge with the EEO for retaliation. Nakai stated he became depressed and sought both medical and traditional Navajo treatment.

In January 2006, the Agency reversed the decision to terminate Nakai and reinstated him.

He is asking to be compensated for distress, compensatory damages, and attorney fees.

Beverly Farley filed more than a year ago with claims almost parallel to Miller.She filed against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as three hospital officials, including Carla Baha-Alchesay, CEO of Northern Navajo Medical Center, Suzanne Krause, Clinical Nurse of the Operating Room, and Timothy Begay, EEO Officer at NNMC..

She states that she was subjected to derogatory comments and repeated inquires about her personnel relationship with Miller. She claims that Krause informed her that the Center did not approve of the relationship, and when she told Begay, she was told that she should not be “messing around with a non-bargaining unit employee”, and that she did not have enough evidence to file a charge. Begay said she was punished for relationship indirectly with disciplinary action.
The defendants have denied all charges against them, and in May 2006, Farley received notice that her claims could not be granted relief.

Administrative officials with the Northern Navajo Medical Center refused to comment on any of the cases.

Jenny Notah, Public Information Officer for the Navajo Area Indian Health Services, said that they cannot comment on any pending litigation. Notah said she was unaware of the complaints.

C.a.r.d {Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination} Source: Gallupindependent.com

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