Monday, May 1, 2023, 5:29 pm
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Last Thursday, a former medical lab assistant who worked at the Greenwood Leflore Hospital filed suit in federal district court claiming racial discrimination.
Qunteller Gomiller says that she was fired because, at the time, her hair was too red.
She mainly blames Human Resources director Margaret Buchanan. GLH and five other potential unknown defendants are also being sued.
Ms. Gomiller is represented by the colorful and controversial Grenada attorney Carlos Moore.
The lawsuit is only one side of the story. So far, GLH and Buchanan have not filed any response. Gomiller's complaint may be seen here: Gomiller v. GLH and Margaret Buchanan
Gomiller states that she was hired in late September 2021 as a medical lab assistant, and worked for eleven months until, she says, she was fired by Buchanan.
Gomiller describes herself as an African-American female. She claims that up to the time of her firing, she had not "experienced any negative incidents, nor did she receive any form of infractions."
HR director Buchanan is also an African-American female.
Nevertheless, Gomiller is claiming racial discrimination as the basis for her firing. She says it happened this way:
Around 2:15pm on September 15, 2022, Plaintiff met with Defendant HR Director Buchanan, to discuss the issue with her "red" hair color.
While in Defendant HR Director Buchanan's office, Buchanan rudely stated "we don't do red hair here. Red hair is not allowed at this hospital." During this meeting, Defendant HR [Director] Buchanan summoned another co-worker, Tamara, into her office to present a current copy of the dress code policy.
Defendant HR Director Buchanan highlighted the portion where it states "Extreme hair colors are not permissible," and instructed Plaintiff not to return to work the next day. Plaintiff asked for written documentation relating to their conversation, but was refused. Instead, Defendant HR Director Buchanan stated, "No, I'm not giving you anything with my handwriting or signature on it and you can get out of my office!"
Gomiller states that nobody had complained about her hair in the three months she had worn it that same color. Nevertheless:
The next day following the wrongful termination, Plaintiff contacted her supervisor to inquire if she could return to work. Supervisor Doe [unknown actual name] responded, "No, as long as your hair is red, they're not allowing you back."
No one in a supervisory position has ever spoken to Plaintiff about her work appearance, specifically, the color of her hair. She was never afforded the opportunity or option to remedy the issue with her hair color.
So Gomiller filed an EEOC complaint for race discrimination and retaliation. The EEOC declined to make a determination, and issued her a "right to sue" letter.
Gomiller also filed for unemployment compensation, but:
She was denied because the employer, Defendant GLH, falsely reported that she voluntarily quit as a no call, no show, in retaliation indicating that her last date of employment was September 28, 2022.
Gomiller lays stout accusations against the hospital and Ms. Buchanan:
As a direct and proximate result of Defendants GLH, HR Director Buchanan, and Does' unlawful and discriminatory conduct toward Plaintiff, Plaintiff has lost wages and benefits and sustained other pecuniary loss.
Defendants discriminatory practices, insults, contempt, and disdain have been demeaning to Plaintiff and have caused her to suffer deep pain, humiliation, anxiety, and emotional distress.
The unlawful actions of Defendants complained of above were intentional, malicious, and taken in reckless disregard of the statutory rights of Plaintiff Qunteller Gomiller.
Gomiller also alleges that GLH retaliated against her after she was let go:
Defendants retaliated against Plaintiff after she was terminated by deliberately making false reports to the unemployment office to prevent Plaintiff from receiving unemployment benefits. Defendants specifically reported that "Plaintiff voluntary quit from her employment on September 28, 2022.["] Plaintiff was retaliated against by unjustly subjecting her to termination.
Defendants GLH, HR Director Buchanan, and Does [unnamed potential defendants] have no legitimate reason for any such acts.
Defendants GLH, HR Director Buchanan, and Does' actions demonstrate a direct and causal connection between Plaintiff invoking her constitutional rights and the resulting termination by Defendants.
Gomiller accuses GLH and Ms. Buchanan of creating:
. . . a hostile environment for Plaintiff Gomiller because of her race . . . .
Finally, Gomiller alleges "retaliatory discharge":
Defendants GLH, HR Director Buchanan, and Does retaliated against Plaintiff once she was terminated by deliberately making false reports to the unemployment office that Plaintiff voluntarily quit on September 28, 2022. Plaintiff was retaliated against by unjustly subjecting her to unjust scrutiny, exclusions, and termination.
Defendants' actions demonstrate a direct and causal connection between Plaintiff invoking her constitutional rights and the resulting false reports to the unemployment agency concerning Plaintiff's separation from employment by Defendants.
Gomiller asks the court to declare that:
Defendants have engaged in race discrimination, retaliation, and constitutional violations under 42 U.S.C. Section 1981; Defendants have engaged in race discrimination, retaliation, and constitutional violations under Title VII . . . .
Gomiller is also seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney fees and costs of the litigation.
From the language of the complaint, it appears that GLH did not consider that it had fired Ms. Gomiller, but rather that she was told not to come back until she had brought her bright red hair into conformity with the employee dress code. She never came back to work, and so she was judged to have quit after being absent from work for 12 days.
According to Ms. Gomiller's Facebook pictures, soon after she left GLH, she got rid of the red hair.
John Pittman Hey
The Taxpayers Channel
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