Tripler faces $20 million racial discrimination lawsuit

Published: Dec. 30, 2011 at 11:00 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 1, 2012 at 12:07 AM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Anthony Bothwell, attorney representing the employees
Anthony Bothwell, attorney representing the employees

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A lawsuit filed today alleges harassment, racial discrimination and name calling at the Tripler Army Medical Center.  The hospital has already paid out tens of millions of dollars in lawsuits to patients.  Now it faces a $20 million fight with employees.

The plaintiffs are 10 past and present employees and include doctors, nurses and a pharmacist.

The 10 employees that filed the racial discrimination lawsuit are Asian, Hispanic, African American and Native American.  They make serious claims that they were belittled by white supremacists in the emergency department.

"The name calling has involved things like calling an African American woman beast.  To people from the south or people of African American heritage to be called beast is profoundly offensive. It's like the N word and maybe even worse in some ways. An Asian American woman being called snake in circumstances where it has racial overtones," said Anthony Bothwell, attorney representing the employees.

One woman says she received hate mail.  Others were denied training opportunities and passed over for promotions for less qualified white workers.  And they claim the people causing the harassment are officers as high as colonels.  People they say should know better.

"There was a Navy Captain who in management meetings referred to African Americans as slackers and said get rid of them. Get rid of the slackers," said Bothwell.

The lawsuit says the plaintiffs suffered from depression, anxiety, physical pain and illness and more which is why they are seeking $20 million in damages.

"We think that is fair given the numerous incidents and the egregious nature of them and the fact this sort of thing is just intolerable in this day and age in a military organization," said Bothwell. "The military cannot say racism does not exist and the US Army Garrison Hawaii cannot say it does not exist, yet that's what they do say in all the legal papers they file."

"We have not received official notification that a lawsuit has been filed with the U.S. Attorney's Office so are unable to address any allegations at this time," wrote Jan Clark, Director Strategic Communications and Public Affairs for Pacific Regional Medical Command and Tripler Army Medical Center, when asked for a response to the lawsuit.

Tripler will have 60 days to respond to the allegations.  It could be a year or more before there's a decision.

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.