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Settlement reached with Rome nursing home on discrimination complaints

By Joleen Ferris

(WKTV) - Just a few months in advance of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a harsh reminder that there is still much work to be done in order to eliminate racism in the workplace.

The State Attorney General's Office on Tuesday announced a settlement with Betsy Ross Nursing Home in Rome following an investigation into racist practices at the facility. 

In a news release, State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that the home accomodated the racially discriminatory preferences of a patient who did not want to be seen or treated by black nurses by reassigning the nurses to another unit of the facility, barring black employees from working in the unit and posting an order that read, "No Colored Nurses" in the unit.

"My initial reaction was, 'Are you kidding'?" said Rome NAACP Chapter President Phonon Perrilloux.

The State Attorney General's Office outlined a settlement they say the terms of which administrators at Betsy Ross Ursing Home have agreed to implement.  Among them, the nursing home will implement a comprehensive anti-discrimination policy, retain a third-party diversity consultant to train employees, post public notices around the facility regarding its commitment to nondiscrimination, report to the attorney general's office for the next three years and not retaliate against any current or former employees who cooperated with the investigation.

Perrilloux applaudes the attorney general's efforts and the way they aggressively proceeded with the investigation. While she's satisfied with the settlement terms, she's sad it even had to get as far as the attorney general's office. 

"It's something that should have been taken care of right inside the nursing home, and I think they had the ability to do it. The courage to do it is something different," said Perrilloux.

How would she have handled it as a nursing home administrator?

"Your other preferences, if we can allow them to occur, we'll allow them to occur, but this is illegal," says Perrilloux regarding the conversation she would have had with the patient.

Nursing home adminstrators had no comment.

The 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which bans, among other things, discrimination in the workplace, is July 2.

To read the agreement, click here.

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