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Report: Employer showed race bias

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GREENFIELD — The Indiana Civil Rights Commission announced Monday a finding of probable cause to believe a Greenfield nursing home discriminated against two African-American employees when they were terminated last year.

In two separate notices last week, Akia Haynes, deputy director of the agency, said that probable cause existed to believe that Sugar Creek Nursing and Rehabilitation, 5430 W. U.S. 40, acted improperly when it fired the employees. According to the notices, the employees were dismissed after violations of company policy over a four-month period.

According to the findings, both women were hired as certified nurse’s aides in spring 2013.

Both were accused of violating company rules on patient care, ranging from substandard care or refusal to care for patients; missing work; and administrative lapses. Both were suspended pending the outcome of the company’s investigation and then terminated on Sept. 20, 2013.

However, the employees alleged that a nurse’s aide who is white engaged in similar conduct and was treated more favorably: That employee was neither fired nor suspended after an investigation of her conduct, the commission found. Instead, that employee was “merely issued a reprimand,” Haynes wrote.

“Simply stated, there is sufficient evidence to show that the Caucasian CNA was treated more favorably under similar circumstances…,” Haynes wrote in her findings.

According to a statement from the commission, the probable-cause findings do not resolve the employees’ civil rights complaints against the nursing home. They mean only that “there is sufficient evidence to support reasonable suspicion that the Indiana Civil Rights Law has been violated” after the state’s preliminary investigation, according to a news release.

“Now that the probable cause finding has been issued, the parties have 20 days to come to a mediation agreement,” said Brad Meadows, the commission’s deputy director of external affairs. If a mediated settlement cannot be reached, the case will go before an administrative law judge for a decision, which can be appealed to either a state or federal court, Meadows said.

Sugar Creek facility administrator Jackie Adams was unable to comment on the matter Monday; the employees were terminated prior to her arrival at Sugar Creek last November.

A representative from Ide Management Group, which manages the facility, was not immediately available for comment Monday.

The company owns, manages and operates assisted-living and skilled nursing facilities in Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa, according to the company’s website.

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