ACLU lawsuit accuses Richmond medical practice of racial employment discrimination

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2 women claim they were fired due to their race

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia filed a discrimination lawsuit against a private medical practice in Richmond.

The organization is representing two black women who claim they were fired from the practice because of their race. The women allege they were subjected to racial slurs and inappropriate comments for more than a year, which made them feel uncomfortable in the work place.

The complaint states they were fired because they didn’t fit into the culture of the office.

Titi Shiyanbade and Tyesha Brooks claim they were racially discriminated against while employed at Executive Health Group of Richmond. Shiyanbade, a former lab technician, and Brooks, a former medical assistant, are suing the concierge medical practice off Jahnke Road and its medical director Dr. J. Rand Baggesen.

“Over the course of their employment, they suffered through multiple instances of racially charged comments,” said Nicole Tortiello, an ACLU attorney representing both women.

Tortiello, who filed the lawsuit this week, told 8News that Shiyanbade and Brooks were fired for culture changes. She said both women were replaced with white employees the very next day.

“Based on the months of comments they’d been enduring and reference to a cultural change without any explanation and the fact that they were immediately replaced with white employees,” Tortiello said, “they were left to understand that the culture change was being sought was a move from black employees to white employees.”

The complaint states that Dr. Baggesen referred to both women as the N-word in conversation with other employees and jokingly said he was part of the black community because he likes catfish. One of the plaintiffs also claims that Dr. Baggesen frequently made comments about her natural hair, asking to touch it, asking her how she managed it and pointing it out to patients.

“We want to make sure that everyone working for a small employer knows that they are still protected from discrimination and can’t be fired because of who they are,” Tortiello told 8News.

Executive Health Group has 30 days to respond to the lawsuit. The case could go to trial if an agreement is not reached.

Both women are seeking a years pay in compensation. Executive Health Group has not yet replied to 8News’ request for comment.

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