Jury Awards $6M in Racial Bias Suit

The lawsuit was filed by Rebecca McCarthy, an African American woman fired from her $190,000-per-year position as vice president of clinical leadership at the company’s location in Bound Brook.
nursing home careA Bergen County jury has awarded a $6 million verdict in a racial discrimination suit by an executive at a Care One nursing facility which includes $4.13 million in punitive damages.

In the complaint, McCarthy said that on October 31, 2016, Fitzpatrick-Durski first asked her to consider returning to the position of clinical services consultant, a position she held at the company before being promoted to her current position.

As McCarthy remained silent, she was allegedly told by Fitzpatrick-Durski, “I don’t want a black person walking around here in a suit as a VP. I want you in scrubs, flats and a lab coat.” She was fired the next day.

In her remarks to McCarthy, Fitzpatrick-Durski refuted any reference to race, and argued that she actually urged McCarthy to participate in hands-on patient care where nursing staff needed help, and change to scrubs if appropriate, court papers said.

Care One and Fitzpatrick’s attorney was Fisher & Phillips ‘ Christopher Capone. Thomas McKinney and Paul Castronovo of Castronovo & McKinney represented McCarthy.

McKinney says he believes that the severity of the punitive award was caused by the sudden nature of McCarthy’s dismissal, which runs counter to Care One’s well-established organizational practice by offering a series of corrective actions to resolve performance issues of workers. “Instead of following any type of progressive discipline, there was a termination of someone who had just received a major raise and promotion,” McKinney said.