A recent job ad in a suburban New York paper called for nurses – but made it a point to let Haitian nationals and descendants know they need not apply, angering an entire community and prompting apologies. However, it may be too late for any mea culpas.
Interim Healthcare, a national healthcare agency, posted an Oct. 15 advertisement in the Rockland Pennysaver with specific qualifications on the type of nurses needed to fulfill an LPN.
According to the ad’s language the agency was seeking a “laid back nurse, no Haitians, must have strong respiratory mngt, gtube.” The “typo” managed to miss the Pennysaver’s classified editors and the paper issued a statement to FoxNews.com saying the ad was “mistakenly published without proper editing protocol.”
Following the apology, Interim Healthcare issued a statement assuring that this type of discriminatory practice is “totally unacceptable” and “offensive.”
“I can assure you that we take this seriously, Katherine McNally, regional president of Interim Healthcare, said. “We have engaged an independent third party to conduct a comprehensive review of what occurred.”
While the apology was swift, for the Haitian American Nurses Association (HANA), assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, councilman Mathieu Eugene, and other supporters –- it is not enough.
“We’re not satisfied with the apology letter. We want to see that they’re looking at some of the ways they can retrain their management because obviously this is something that is embedded in their practice,” Marie Hyppolite, president of HANA of Greater New York, said.
Enlisting the help of local officials, who have shown their support through hosting their own press conferences and rallies since the ad’s printing, HANA is now backed by the Haitian American Lawyer’s Association and the Attorney General in support of launching a full investigation.
“Our community deserves to know that their government is taking steps to ensure that employment discrimination is not tolerated in a country as great as ours,” New York State Senator David Carlucci said. “I firmly believe that a thorough investigation by Attorney General Schneiderman, the Department of Labor and the EEOC is necessary to prevent and discourage these and other companies from discriminating against anyone of any race, sex, or creed.”
Other area politicians joined in the anger over the advertisement.
“The submission of a job listing that excludes individuals of any ethnicity and the publication of such an advertisement was immoral and unacceptable, and a violation of state and federal laws that prohibit discrimination in hiring,” Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, a daughter of Jamaican immigrants who represents Brooklyn’s 9th Congressional District, said alongside other Haitian-American legislators in a New York State Assembly.
“We really feel that in this day and age, we’re shocked that it could be blatantly done We know it happens behind the scene but for somebody to feel so powerful that they can publish it in a newspaper it’s really because you feel like you can and there will not be any repercussions,” Hyppolite said.
With an investigation underway, Hypollite still demands more and is working on coordinating a nationwide march to show that this type of discriminatory behavior is not tolerated.
Her plan is to mobilize the other branches of HANA in cities like Atlanta and Florida to march together as a message to Interim, which operates offices in these same cities.
Mireille Leroy, president of the Rockland County branch of HANA, is also currently seeking out any nurses of Haitian descent and other cultures to determine whether there has been acts of discrimination that have been flying under the radar.
“They’re asking both community leaders, going into churches, asking people not to be afraid and come out because they want them to give them what has been their experience at Interim,” Hyppolite said.
“We had few but they want to remain anonymous. They don’t want to feel retaliation of losing their job,” Leroy added.
Nurses assume the responsibility to provide care to those who are sick no matter their race, religion, or beliefs. “I have never seen a nurse that said I will not take care of a patient because they are black, white, or anything. We do not discriminate when delivering care,” Leroy said.