GA Federal Court Dismisses Race Bias Suit Against Hospital

A Georgia federal judge granted summary judgment in favor of Tift Regional Medical Center in a suit involving claims of racial discrimination and retaliation in firing a former employee. Brian Edwards alleged that Tift had fired him after complaining about racially insensitive remarks by a supervisor. The court found that Edwards could not rebut the hospital’s claim that he was fired for a nondiscriminatory reason, i.e., that Edwards was consistently late to work.

Tift originally hired Edwards as a food service aide in January 2019. After he completed orientation, the hospital assigned Edwards to the stockroom, but others complained on multiple occasions about him being late, taking extended breaks, and not completing his duties. Tift moved Edwards to a dishwashing station, but the problems continued.

About this time, Edwards, who is Black, claimed that a supervisor told him that he needed to “outwork a Mexican” and “work as hard as a slave.” He complained about the supervisor’s comments to Human Resources, but the hospital reportedly fired him within the next five workdays, allegedly due to his poor work ethic and performance. When Tift fired him, Edwards was still within his 120-day probationary period.

Edwards filed suit against Tift in January 2020, claiming racial discrimination and retaliation. He claimed that no one had ever counseled him about his allegedly poor work performance and that the hospital did not fire other employees who had attendance issues.

Edwards v. Tift Regional Medical Center, case number 7:20-cv-00003, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia

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