Jury Awards $6M in Racial Bias Suit

By Thomas McKinney

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.

About the Author
Tom McKinney is an experienced NJ Employment Lawyer in all major areas of labor and employment law, including discrimination, harassment, overtime violations, wage and hour claims, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, LAD, FLSA, and all other employment law claims. Tom is admitted to practice in the States of New Jersey and New York, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York, District of New Jersey, and United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to forming the firm, Tom practiced at Gibbons P.C. in Newark, NJ. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Tom here today.