A former Chief Operating Officer for HealthCARE Express filed a federal lawsuit last week in Texarkana accusing the owner of racial discrimination.
Samuel Mitchell, who is an African American, alleges Timothy Reynolds M.D. made repeated comments about his race and increasingly used offensive language after Mitchell filed a complaint with human resources. Mitchell claims he was fired for his complaints about Reynolds and that he was retaliated against after his termination.
Mitchell alleges he and his family relocated from Miami to Texarkana and that he began working for HealthCARE Express on Aug. 1, 2018.
“During Mitchell’s employment with HealthCARE Express, HealthCARE Express Defendants, Reynolds regularly made inappropriate, racially charged remarks about Mitchell and other African Americans. Reynolds made remarks to Mitchell connecting Mitchell’s sexual prowess and/or performance to his race,” a complaint filed April 16 in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas states.
Reynolds allegedly commented on Mitchell’s genitalia, perpetuating a racist stereotype.
“On several occasions, Reynolds ‘thanked’ Mitchell for being the ‘exception’ to Reynold’s stated belief that “most blacks” were ignorant and/or illiterate,” the complaint states.
Mitchell alleges that he made a complaint about the alleged racist comments to the company’s human resources director but she did nothing.
“By failing to take any action in response to Mitchell’s First Formal Racial Harassment Complaint, HealthCARE Express Defendants endorsed and condoned Reynold’s conduct,” the complaint states.”Reynolds continued to make racially charged remarks and jokes to Mitchell and other
employees after Mitchell’s First Formal Racial Harassment Complaint.”
Mitchell alleges Reynolds made light of an incident where Mitchell’s son was referred to with a racial slur while at school. Mitchell claims that Reynolds and two other white physicians told him he should get a gun because “all white people” in Texarkana carry firearms.
“A supervisor’s suggesting to an African American employee that they should buy a gun because “all white people” in the area own a gun violates Defendant’s Equal Employment Practices Policy and Violence Policy,” the complaint states.
The complaint alleges Reynolds regularly used racial slurs and referred to nooses and lynchings when expressing dissatisfaction with employees.
“Between January and March of 2019, Reynolds regularly made references to nooses, hangings, and lynching to Mitchell and in front of Mitchell when describing his unhappiness with certain HealthCARE Express employees. Reynolds used the terms “noose” and “lynching” while speaking with or near Mitchell because Mitchell is African American. Reynolds used the terms “noose” and “lynching” in order to racially intimidate Mitchell,” the complaint states.
The complaint alleges HealthCARE Express’ human resources director was present when Reynolds made such comments and took no action.
Mitchell alleges that nothing was done after he made a second formal complaint to human resources in March 2019.
Mitchell claims he was terminated by Reynolds about a week after he made his second complaint to human resources and that Reynolds told him he wasn’t a “good fit.”
Mitchell alleges he sent Reynolds an email following his termination which addressed the alleged discrimination and that in response he received a threatening letter from Reynolds’ attorney which said Mitchell was fired for poor performance and could face legal action. Mitchell claims he never received any negative feedback about his job performance until after he was fired.
Mitchell alleges he was subjected to a hostile work environment based on his race and that Reynolds and HealthCARE Express violated federal law prohibiting racial discrimination.
Mitchell is seeking a declaratory judgment that the conduct was illegal and an injunction preventing the conduct in the future. Mitchell is asking to be put in a position equal to the one he previously occupied and is seeking economic damages for loss of wages and punitive damages. The case was filed by Chris Wido of Beachwood, Ohio, on Mitchell’s behalf April 16.
The case is pending before U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder III.