Black Nursing Home Executive Wins $6M Settlement Thanks to Her Former Boss Complaining She Couldn’t Stomach ‘Black Person Walking Around Here in a Suit’

A Black former nursing home executive won more than $6 million in a New Jersey discrimination suit after her boss allegedly halted her promotion because of her race.

“I am very happy that justice was served,” Rebecca McCarthy told Atlanta Black Star in an email Wednesday.

Woman in blue pin striped blazer and woman in glasses and t-shirt
Care One executive Alison Fitzpatrick-Durski (right) allegedly reversed the promotion of Rebecca McCarthy (left) due to her race. (Photos from left to right by: rmccarthynurseconsulting.com | Alison Fitzpatrick LNHA on LinkedIn)

The woman earlier said in a civil complaint that Care One executive Alison Fitzpatrick-Durski told her, “I don’t want a black person walking around here in a suit as VP. I want you in scrubs, flats and a lab coat.”

McCarthy said she was fired the next day at the Bound Brook facility and replaced by a white woman. 

“A black person just like any other hardworking qualified person deserves to hold a VP title and wear a suit without discrimination,” McCarthy said. “Ms. Fitzpatrick-Durski made it clear to me on her first day on the job that she didn’t want to see a black person in the VP position.”

McCarthy was originally offered a promotion to vice president when she informed the company she was accepting another position in 2016, according to the Daily Mail.

She instead stayed and worked as vice president a few months until a recently hired senior vice president asked her to return to her former position, McCarthy stated in the lawsuit.

“It is a shame that CareOne continues to defend such disgusting behavior,” McCarthy told Atlanta Black Star. “I hope that this never happens to anyone else.”

Fitzpatrick-Durski denied referencing race when she spoke to McCarthy and claimed she was trying to get the woman to prioritize hands-on patient care, the Daily Mail reported.

Attorneys for the company said McCarthy was fired due to her performance, and they backed up Fitzpatrick-Durski’s claim that she wasn’t racist as evidenced by her direct reports being minorities, according to the Daily Mail.

Attorneys also highlighted Fitzpatrick-Durski’s former marriage to a Black man and said she ‘is the mother of three children who partake of African American heritage,’ the Daily Mail reported.  

A judge is scheduled to rule on the defense’s motion to dismiss the verdict on Nov. 22, the newspaper reported. 

McCarthy’s lawyers contend race was the only reason their client was fired and that Fitzpatrick-Durski allegedly referred to another black employee as a slave. 

A jury siding with McCarthy awarded the woman $4.1 million in punitive damages and about $1.8 million in compensatory damages, the New Jersey Law Journal reported.

McCarthy’s case isn’t the first legal matter Care One has faced regarding how its employees are treated.

Amid a federal appeals court ruling in 2016 that the business violated fair labor practices at its Morristown facility when workers were trying to unionize, Care One organized a mandatory meeting to prove it was “a family,” Nj.com reported.

During the meeting, the business played a slideshow of images from a Valentine’s Day party and played Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” in the background.

Care One has not yet responded to an Atlanta Black Star request for comment.

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