Heath Care Provider Created Racially Hostile Workplace by Accommodating Racist Resident

By Leeds Brown Law | October 13, 2010

A health care worker claims she was fired due to racial discrimination from a Plainfield nursing home. Plainfield Healthcare Center accommodated a resident’s request that no assistance shall be given from black certified nursing assistants.  Plainfield told Plaintiff, Brenda Chaney, a black nursing assistant, in writing everyday that “no black” assistants should enter this resident’s room or provide her with care.  Chaney filed a Title VII action, claiming Plainfield’s practice of acceding to the racial biases of its residents was illegal and created a hostile work environment.  The district court concluded that the note on Chaney’s assignment sheet advising her of the “Prefers No Black CNAs” exclusion was reasonable given Plainfield’s good-faith belief that ignoring the resident’s preferences would have violated Indiana’s patient-rights laws.  On appeal, Chaney and the EEOC argued that Plainfield’s racial-preference policy was an unlawful employment practice that, along with racial animosity from her co-workers, created an “unremediated, racially hostile workplace.”  In reversing, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a health-care provider’s policy of complying with patients’ wishes to be treated only by white health care workers can form the basis of a racially hostile work environment for non-white employees.  Chaney v. Plainfield Healthcare Center

In order to impose liability for a racially hostile work environment, a minority plaintiff must show that the work environment was both objectively and subjectively hostile, and that the conduct was severe and pervasive.  The 7th Circuit Court pointed out that no single act can more quickly alter the conditions of employment than the use of an unambiguously racial epithet.  The Court’s summary of its decision provides a directive to health-care provider/employers:  “Just as the law tolerates same-sex restrooms or same-sex dressing rooms, but not white-only rooms, to accommodate privacy needs, Title VII allows an employer to respect a preference for same-sex health providers, but not same-race providers.”  According to the Court, Plainfield’s exclusion of Chaney from certain residents and work areas solely on account of her race created a racially-charged situation that “poisoned the work environment” and created “fodder” for co-workers’ racially derogatory remarks.

The attorneys at Leeds Morelli & Brown, P.C., dedicate a large amount of their practice to discrimination claims.  For any questions, contact an attorney at the Leeds Morelli & Brown P.C. law firm for a free consultation at 1-800-585-4658. Leeds Morelli & Brown P.C.’s website is located at

Free Consultation


Shortly after beginning medical school, I experienced some academic difficulties. After seeing my physicians, I was diagnosed with ADHD. After I started receiving specific treatment for ADHD, I requested the school to accommodate me for the disability as recommended by my physician. One of the requests made was for extended time to take my exams. The extension of time was granted...

~Kenneth Broodo, Esq.

Partner at Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP
I hired Lenard Leeds, Esq. to assist me with my wrongful termination. I was let go of my position because of my age. I was not only told to take a decrease in pay but also required to work fewer hours to do the same job. Additionally, they kept asking me “When are you going to retire?” I visited the...


I want to thank you again for assisting me in overseeing my issues with my employer. This is the second time I have used Lenard Leeds, Esq. to fight for me. This time I was a National Sales Manager of a drug company, where acts of discrimination based on my age, national origin and retaliation took place. Mr. Leeds and...

~Law Professor

Discrimination Case

$19 Million

Settlement Secured in a National Origin
View More

Request Free Consultation

Please fill out the form below to receive a free consultation, we will respond to
your inquiry within 24-hours guaranteed.


One Old Country Road, Suite 347 Carle Place, NY 11514


get directions


101 Greenwich Street, 22nd Floor New York, NY 10006


get directions
Call Now!