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Filipino Nurse in USA Sues Kohala Hospital for Alleged Discrimination By Tiffany - News - Nurses Arena Forum

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Filipino Nurse in USA Sues Kohala Hospital for Alleged Discrimination By Tiffany by Idowu Olabode : August 16, 2017, 05:19:49 PM
A Kohala Hospital nurse is suing the hospital on claims of discrimination and a hostile work environment.

The suit claims Elvira Bagay, 44, a first-generation Filipino immigrant, was denied a promotion to charge nurse last July.

“The July, 28, 2016 denial was the third time the Plaintiff was denied promotion by the Defendant in favor of other non-Filipino ancestry applicants, despite the Plaintiff’s qualifications and experience,” the suit states.

Bagay’s attorney, Ted H.S. Hong, said he’s encountered discrimination against first-generation Filipino immigrants frequently in private and public sectors.

“Unfortunately this is not an uncommon problem,” Hong said. “It’s happening with more frequency and that to me is disturbing.”

The lawsuit names three defendants: Eugene Amar, hospital administrator and part local Filipino; Carmel Rice, the hospital’s chief nurse executive, local Filipino; and Faye Gutierrez, human resources manager, non-Filipino ancestry.

On May 5, 2016, the lawsuit states Amar and Rice interrogated Bagay about a report she wrote about a coworker of non-Filipino ancestry, concerning possible patient neglect.

“Mr. Amar and Ms. Rice surrounded the Plaintiff, who was seated in Mr. Amar’s office, asked hostile, accusatory questions and criticized the Plaintiff for putting into writing her concerns about possible patient neglect,” the suit states. “They told the Plaintiff she should have talked to them first and not put her concerns in writing.”

The lawsuit states when Bagay told Amar and Rice about her intentions to apply for the vacant charge nurse position, they reacted with open hostility toward her.

“At the end of June of 2016, the Plaintiff’s coworkers warned the Plaintiff not to submit an application for the open position,” according to the lawsuit. “Her coworkers told her that the promotion process had been ‘cooked’ and that the coworker that the Plaintiff submitted a complaint of possible patient neglect was the person already designated to receive the promotion.”

The lawsuit indicates that on July 19, 2016, Bagay’s coworkers voluntarily signed a letter in support of her receiving the promotion to charge nurse. However, on July 29, 2016, Bagay was informed she was not selected for the position. This was the third time Bagay had been denied a promotion in favor of a non-Filipino applicant, despite her qualifications and experience.

Also that day, the lawsuit states, every coworker who signed the letter in support of Bagay was called in by management and being talked to about signing the letter.

“Many of the Plaintiff’s coworkers felt that the meetings were intimidating,” the suit states.

On Aug. 11, 2016, the court document indicates Gutierrez refused to assist Bagay in providing the name and address of the hospital’s chief operating officer. Gutierrez then yelled and threatened Bagay so coworkers could overhear.

“The plaintiff was shocked and frightened by Ms. Gutierrez’s hostility, and ran off crying, and cried during the remainder of her shift,” the lawsuit states.

On Oct. 4, 2016, Bagay was given a negative personnel evaluation, depriving her of movement in her salary range.

“The Plaintiff is informed and believes that the Defendant, through its management employees, has a pattern and practice of discriminating against employees who are Filipino immigrants,” the lawsuit states.

Hong asks the courts in the lawsuit to award Bagay equitable relief of back salary, fringe benefits and prejudgement interest for that entire period, and/or front pay and accrued benefits based on the promotion Bagay was wrongfully denied.

Hong also requests Bagay be compensated damages, including but not limited to a step movement that she may have been deprived of due to the discriminatory personnel evaluation she received.

Hong also asks to award Bagay’s costs and attorneys, any pre and post judgement interest and “grant such other relief as it may deem just and proper.”

Now that the lawsuit has been filed, Hong said, he will wait until it is served to hospital administration in Honolulu.

“Their attorneys will answer the complaint and we’ll go from there,” he said.

A hospital spokeswoman said Tuesday afternoon she was unaware of the lawsuit, which was filed in 3rd Circuit Court on Aug. 8. She said she could not provide a comment at this time.

Bagay was hired at the hospital in 1997 as a registered professional nurse. She received her BSN in 1993 from the Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center’s College of Nursing and Liberal Arts in Manila.

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