The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

PRESS RELEASE
9-29-09

NATIONAL HOSPICE PROVIDER SUED BY EEOC FOR NATIONAL ORIGIN DISCRIMINATION AND RETALIATION

Hispanic Executive Director Unlawfully Fired, Federal Agency Charges

SAN ANTONIO - A Delaware corporation which provides hospices nationwide violated federal law by firing a Hispanic employee from his position as an executive director of its Kerrville, Texas, facility because of his national origin and because he reported discriminatory conduct, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC's suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division (Civil Action No. SA09CA0796XR), VistaCare, Inc., which was acquired by Odyssey Healthcare, Inc. on March 6, 2008, discharged the Latino man shortly after he complained about discriminatory treatment. According to evidence gathered by the EEOC, the Anglo supervisor who was instrumental in discharging this person had voiced her opposition to hiring him as an executive director.

This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin, and prohibits employers from retaliating against those who complain about such misconduct. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The EEOC's suit seeks back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of a notice, and injunctive relief.

"Rather than taking advantage of the opportunity to properly address an employee's internal complaints about discrimination, Odyssey Healthcare made the situation even worse by terminating him," said Judith G. Taylor, supervisory trial attorney of the EEOC's San Antonio Field Office. “This lawsuit serves to remind employers that the EEOC is vigilant in enforcing the law and ensuring that individuals who engage in legally protected opposition are not fired in retaliation.”

EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Eduardo Juarez added, "Equal employment opportunity cannot be denied because of a person's place of origin -- or that of his ancestors -- or because he has the physical, cultural, or linguistic characteristics of a national origin group."

According to company information, Odyssey is one of the largest providers of hospice care in the country.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.


This page was last modified on September 29, 2009.

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