SARTELL -- The Minnesota Department of Human Rights Tuesday reached a settlement with a senior living facility in Sartell they say violated Minnesota’s civil rights law by discriminating against, and eventually firing, a Black employee.

According to the settlement, Jameisha Cox, an employee of Edgewood Sartell, was harassed and belittled on a daily basis due to her race. Cox, a personal care assistant, says a resident she worked with made derogatory comments about her race, hair and skin. Cox reported the resident also shouted racial epithets and attempted to rip off Cox’s headscarf.

Cox and other employees reported the racist behavior to a supervisor who failed to address the situation. The settlement says the supervisor also repeatedly denied Cox’s requests to work with a different resident.

Cox says Edgewood eventually fired her because of her race, claiming she failed to report to work. Cox says her supervisor approved her request for time off because she was waiting for her next paycheck in order to repair her car which she used to get to work. According to the report, Edgewood Sartell did not fire white employees with significant attendance issues.

On November 18, 2018, Cox filed a charge with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, alleging racial discrimination. On December 31, 2019, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights determined that Edgewood Sartell violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act by failing to address the racial harassment by the resident, and by firing Cox because of her race.

“Being belittled on a daily basis because of race is sad a reality for Black people,” said Cox. “I was blatantly ignored when I raised concerns about being racially harassed. I was ignored again when I was fired because of my race. All I wanted was my job back and nobody cared at all.”

“Now my former employer is being held responsible and has to change their policies so what happened to me doesn’t happen for the next Black person,” she added.

“Jameisha Cox’s case lays bare yet another example of anti-Black racism,” said Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero. “As Minnesota’s civil rights enforcement agency, we continue to work every day to build a state where communities of color and Indigenous communities can thrive by enforcing civil rights law, ending racist practices, and undoing systems that perpetuate racial disparities.”

The terms of the settlement require Edgewood Sartell to amend discrimination and harassment policies regarding discriminatory conduct by employees, residents, guests, visitors, vendors, and contractors; inform all employees of the updated policies; and provide anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and bias training to employees.

The settlement agreement also requires Edgewood Sartell to pay Cox for lost wages and damages.

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