Nicole Birden, a 48-year-old African American and former UCLA Health phlebotomist, was awarded $1.58 million in her wrongful termination and racial harassment lawsuit against the UC Regents. Birden filed the discrimination lawsuit in 2017 citing the University of California Board of Regents for wrongful termination and discrimination.
Birden started working at UCLA in 2015 and claims she experienced a hostile work environment filled with co-workers calling her derogatory names, bullying on the job and even tampering with her work. Allegedly, Birden’s co-workers took the harassment so far that they tampered with blood samples in order to sabotage her work. In response to the escalating harassment and discrimination, Birden complained to her supervisor. She was fired in 2016. Birden was allegedly referred to as the “black girl with the attitude” by a number of co-workers while she was employed at UCLA.
UCLA’s legal representation argued that Birden was terminated due to a pattern or poor performance. He also made it clear to the jurors that the plaintiff never claimed she was treated differently because she was African American in her original complaints. UCLA is disappointed with the verdict and claim to be reviewing their options.
UCLA also claims that they consider ensuring a respectful and inclusive work environment to be essential to the university’s overall mission. They feel they encourage their employees to report any concerns in order to allow the issues to be reviewed and then appropriately addressed by management and administration at the university. They also restated their belief that UCLA Health is dedicated to maintaining a positive workplace without discrimination, harassment or retaliation.
If you have experienced discrimination in the workplace or if you need to file a harassment lawsuit, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik and DeBlouw LLP today.