Nursing Home Group to Pay $450K for National Origin Discrimination

April 21, 2009 ( - Skilled Healthcare Group, Inc., Skilled Healthcare, LLC, and other affiliated companies, will pay up to $450,000 and provide significant remedial relief to a class of Hispanic employees at its nursing homes and assisted living facilities who were subject to national origin discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced.

In a press release, the EEOC said the employees were subject to harassment, different terms and conditions of employment, promotion, compensation, and the implementation of an English-only rule that was only enforced against Hispanics The lawsuit arose from a charge of discrimination by a monolingual janitor, Jose Zazueta, who was fired from defendants’ Royalwood Care Center in Torrance, California, for violating the company’s English-only policy.

Other employees at defendants’ facilities who spoke Tagalog were not disciplined or terminated for speaking that language at work, the announcement said.

The EEOC identified a total of 53 current and former Hispanic employees at facilities in California and Texas who were subjected to disparate treatment and harassment based on their national origin and shared Spanish language. The EEOC alleged that some workers were prohibited from speaking Spanish to Spanish-speaking residents of the facility, or disciplined for speaking Spanish in the parking lot while on breaks. Additionally, the EEOC alleged that defendants gave Hispanic employees less desirable work than non-Hispanic counterparts, paid them less, and promoted them less often.

The three-year consent decree also provides for the employers to offer English language classes to the 53 claimants.