Press Release 09-03-2020

Presbyterian Healthcare to Pay $150,000 to Settle EEOC Race Discrimination and Retaliation Suit

Presbyterian’s Lincoln County Medical Center Subjected African American EMT to Race Harassment and Retaliation for Filing Complaint, Federal Agency Charged

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Presbyterian Healthcare Services, operating Lincoln County Medical Center and its emergency services unit in Ruidoso, N.M., will pay $150,000 and furnish other relief to settle a lawsuit for race discrimination and retaliation brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Oppor­tunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Lincoln County Medical Center subjected Tabitha Knoll-Billingsley, an African American emergency medical technician, to race discrimination and then retaliated against her for complaining about the racial harassment by her white coworker.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employ­ment discrimination based on race and retaliation for complaining about it. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico (EEOC v. Presbyterian Healthcare Services, Civil Action No. 20-CV-00855-MV-LF) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process.

The two-year consent decree settling the suit, entered on September 2, 2020, prohibits Presbyterian from discriminating against employees on the basis of race and from retaliating against employees in the future. The decree also requires Presbyterian to review and revise its EEO discrimination reporting and investigation policies, and it requires Lincoln County Medical Center to train all its employees on Title VII race and retaliation laws. The decree further requires Presbyterian to pay $150,000 and issue a letter of apology to Knoll-Billingsley.

“Employers are responsible for preventing and remedying any racial harassment and discrimin­ation toward emp­loyees,” said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office. “Employers will be held responsible when they do not protect employees from coworker harass­ment, when they fail to provide non-discriminatory treatment of employees during their investi­gations into equal employment opportunity complaints, and when they retaliate against the employees because of their EEO complaints.”

Elizabeth Cadle, district director of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, added, “We appreciate Presbyterian’s cooperation in reaching an early resolution of this case and its commitment to working toward establishing a discrimination-free workplace.”

The EEOC’s Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and part of New Mexico (including Albuquerque).

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employ­ment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.