Hospice worker claims racial discrimination

Kelly Holleran Jun. 30, 2010, 4:46am

A woman has filed suit against a prominent non-profit organization, alleging she was fired because of her race.

Sylvia Penny claims she worked for Hospice of Southern Illinois since October 2007 and was the non-profit's only black employee at the time.

"The Defendant attempted to intimidate the Plaintiff and harassed her because of her race, being African American in remarks made to the plaintiff by a supervisor on or about April 1, 2008, which were inappropriate and harassing," the suit states. "The Plaintiff was subjected to demeaning remarks by her supervisor made in such a fashion as to embarrass and aggravate the Plaintiff and in such a circumstance that the Complainant, because of disparity of power in their relationship could not argue, respond, or even comment on the Defendant's disparaging remarks."

Hospice failed to investigate disciplinary action to which Penny was subjected, the complaint says. Had it done so, it would have realized Penny acted in a professional manner, she claims.

On April 14, 2008, Hospice submitted an improper and negative performance evaluation of Penny's work solely based on her race, according to the complaint filed June 16 in Madison County Circuit Court. On May 9, 2008, Penny was fired, the complaint says.

Because of her termination, Penny claims she suffered a loss of income and great emotional distress.

In her two-count complaint, Penny is seeking a judgment of more than $100,000.

Greg Roosevelt of Roosevelt Law Office in Edwardsville will be representing her.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-636.

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