As complaints of racial discrimination against Kansas City’s Veterans Administration hospital have mounted over the past year, another Black ex-employee has come forward saying he was forced to endure harassment at work that was committed, ignored or bolstered by his supervisors.
Michael Hill, a former accounting technician, filed a civil lawsuit in federal court Friday outlining allegations against the hospital, which has had its workplace culture highlighted by area civil rights groups in recent months. More than 50 Black current and former employees have come forward since last year saying they have experienced racial discrimination while working at the hospital.
A VA spokesman did not immediately reply to The Star’s request for comment. In the past, the VA has said the facility does not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind.
Hill claims he was forced to resign in 2019 after working there for nine years. Beginning in at least 2013, Hill says in the lawsuit that he heard racist slurs directed toward Black workers, including the phrases: “you people,” “ghetto” and “nappy headed.”
In court records, Hill says he was repeatedly referred to as “boy” by coworkers — including supervisors — so often that it essentially became his official nickname at work.
When he complained, court records said, those employees continued calling him “boy” but pretended the name was applied accidentally. Those employees would then say things like, “Oh, I guess I better not say that.”
Hill was long aware of other harassment targeting other Black employees, according to the lawsuit. As a union representative, Hill was also involved in complaints of harassment and discrimination brought forward by fellow employees.
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SOURCE: The Kansas City Star, Bill Lukitsch and Cortlynn Stark