By Michael Goldbloom
VH2 was contacted by and met with 13 current and former NGHS employees who relayed stories of systemic racism, degradation, harassment, being forced out and terminated at the hands of white management at the Northeast Georgia Hospital.
The employees, 5 current and 8 former who all wished to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, all told eerily similar stories of the NGHS leadership team’s aggression towards minority, mostly black employees. More than half of the thirteen do not or did not work together and did not know each other until recently.
The group of employees range all professional levels and job profiles from environmental services and nursing to human resources, and training. The allegations are widespread.
“The NGHS leadership team puts hits out on minority employees and forces them out if they dare to ask for positive change, complain or demand to be treated fairly. Even worse, if they are ‘too smart’ and ambitious, they’re treated as a threat and forced out. They just can’t stand black people and can’t tolerate our presence at this healthcare system and Georgia should be ashamed! People should wonder, if they treat us like this, how do you think they treat our patients?” said one current employee. Another stated “They always find a way to limit opportunities for minority employees and force them out by aggressively or passive aggressively giving us hell instead of giving us the support we need.” another former employee said.
In a detailed accounting, the current and former NGHS staffers tell stories of minority employees being humiliated and mistreated at the hands of the leadership team at NGHS and being forced out for doing their job. Terminations based on racism and retaliation for making complaints about a hostile working environment or employees being made to resign in lieu of termination was said to be commonplace. Demanding minority employees accept what they called “sub-human” treatment was said to be systemic.
VH2 interviewed retired attorney Tom Fitzpatrick who serves as a North Georgia community advocate. Fitzpatrick stated, “After speaking with NGHS employees a couple of years ago and now having an opportunity to speak with this group, clearly there’s something there. From a Latino Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) being forced out to positions throughout NGHS in HR, environmental services, organizational development and beyond, there’s a pattern here. Especially in Human Resources” he said. “Based on the detailed information these current and former employees are providing, it appears that there’s a pervasive problem with diversity, equity and inclusion, systemic racism, a hostile working environment, minorities being subjected to different terms and conditions of their employment, widespread constructive discharges and a pattern and practice of workplace discrimination based on race.” He went on to say.
The current and former employees collectively agreed that it was time to bring their complaints to light because “it is an issue of public concern”. They were also unified in placing the blame at the feet of CEO Carol Burrell and the entire leadership team. “It would never happen unless she co-signed on it and sent her dogs out to do her bid. Melissa Tymchuk (The CEO’s Chief of Staff and interim CHRO), HR director Tiffany Farris and HR system manager Robin Daniel conduct modern day slave hunts to root out black employees from NGHS” said a current employee with more than 10 years at NGHS. All of the whistleblowers current and former are black and Latino. However there was an additional current employee who is not a part of the group but told VH2 that “they are a witness to some of the inside conversations surrounding the mistreatment of black employees and if called, would testify to what they know because it isn’t right as a Christian”.
VH2 was able to verify that she is in fact, a current NGHS employee in a leadership position with more than 10 years at the organization. She also had serious concerns with retaliation and maintaining her anonymity until potential legal proceedings begin and she would be better protected.
VH2 is in the process of collecting additional data and interviewing more employees, current and former to learn more of the detailed accounts soon to come. Stay tuned for your once a week news blast for those too busy to read the news daily!