A former Albany Medical Center employee is suing the hospital, alleging she was retaliated against for supporting a co-worker in a racial discrimination claim.
Virginia Claus of Bethlehem filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Albany last week, claiming the hospital violated anti-retaliation provisions in various statutes, including state human rights law.
Claus was employed by the hospital as a development officer from August 2009 until she was terminated in September 2012, according to the suit. She worked to raise funds for the hospital.
Claus alleges that her supervisor became “hyper critical” of her job performance after Claus gave formal statements in 2010 that the supervisor viewed as supporting the co-worker’s claim.
The co-worker made her claim to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging the supervisor discriminated against her because of her race.
An investigation was launched by the hospital into that worker’s claim, and Claus was interviewed by in-house legal staff, according to the suit.
Claus describes her statement as truthful about the co-worker’s treatment by the supervisor. The outcome of the co-worker’s claim is not referenced in Claus’ suit.
Soon after, according to the suit, the supervisor began to treat Claus differently, issuing inaccurate criticisms based on false descriptions of her performance.
The situation culminated in a corrective action, a preliminary step for discipline, against Claus in May 2012. Claus contends her actual performance did not justify the action.
The real reason for the action, the suit reads, “was to retaliate against Ms. Claus for her protective activity in supporting the claim of a co-worker” who alleged discrimination.
Her firing resulted in a claim with the EEOC. She was given a right-to-sue letter in September. She then filed another complaint last month regarding her termination. That claim has yet to be processed with the EEOC. Once that processing is complete, the suit reads, Claus intends to add claims related to her termination to the suit.
Claus is seeking back pay and benefits, an order directing the hospital to rehire her, and other damages.
Named as defendants in the suit are Albany Medical Center and the supervisor.
Claus is represented by Albany attorney Ronald Dunn. He could not be reached for comment Monday. A representative of the hospital declined to comment.