Lawsuit Alleging Race Discrimination in Nursing Home Settled for $1.2M

July 9, 2001

Beverly Enterprises Inc., the nation’s largest operator of nursing homes, will pay $1.2 million to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit, according to an Associated Press story. Nine former workers claimed that black employees were harassed and subjected to discrimination and racial slurs at the Bridgeton Nursing Center in north St. Louis County, which Beverly owned before it was sold last year.

Under the terms of the July 2 settlement, Beverly will also discipline a personnel worker who did not adequately investigate the allegations, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said. Denella Marlay, the former head of Bridgeton, faced accusations of racial prejudice from six black employees who said they were harassed or forced out of their jobs in 1993 and 1994, and three white co-workers who said they faced retaliation for not following discriminatory practices.

According to the AP, the suit said that Marlay required work applications by black people be coded with a frowning face, and applications by white people be coded with a smiling face. Marlay reportedly resigned in the Fall.

The settlement remains to be approved by a federal district court. Beverly operates 530 nursing homes in 29 states and the District of Columbia with approximately 55,000 employees. EEOC officials said Beverly has installed a new management and organizational structure with the goal of eliminating racial discrimination.

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