Former Janitor Sues OHSU, Saying He Was Fired For Being Black

A man who worked at Oregon Health & Science University for nearly three decades is suing the institution for discrimination, claiming he was fired for being black and lost full retirement benefits. 

The complaint, filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, says Bob English worked at OHSU for 27 years through June 2018 as a janitor. The suit says he received favorable reviews throughout his career but then in 2016 he “began to be targeted by his managers.”

The suit says he was passed over for overtime hours, which were given instead to younger, white employees with less seniority; suffered hostility from his managers; experienced the disclosure of confidential information to co-workers; and that officials refused to investigate his complaint about abuse from a younger, white co-worker. The complaint also says he experienced  “frivolous investigatory meetings and meritless disciplinary actions culminating in his termination.”

The suit alleges that older employees and other staff members of color in the Environmental Services Department also experienced hostile treatment. This past April, the suit says English complained to human resources officials at OHSU that he was being discriminated against by the manager of department, Rachel McMahon. In his complaint, English said McMahon also discriminated other employees of color, the suit says.

The university responded to the complaint in a statement that said: “While OHSU does not comment on ongoing litigation, we take allegations of discrimination seriously.”

Two months after English’s complaint, he was fired, the suit says. It claims he was terminated because of his race, age or race discrimination complaint.

When terminated, he was 57 and had 27 years of employment with OHSU. The suit says that had he worked three decades and was at least 58, he would have received full retirement benefits.

The suit asks that English be reinstated to his former position, receive back pay and lost benefits up to the time of reinstatement and receive at least $300,000 in damages for emotional distress, humiliation and loss of personal dignity. It also seeks unspecified damages for breach of good faith.

The suit seeks a jury trial.

You can reach Lynne Terry at [email protected].

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