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More discrimination complaints against the KCVA come out in federal lawsuit

Former employee fired last year
Discrimination lawsuit VA
Posted at 4:53 PM, Jun 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-24 19:53:41-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — Grecian Gill said the toxic work environment at the Kansas City Veterans Affairs Medical Center forced her to file a federal discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against them.

Gill was fired from her job last year and spoke out about it on Thursday.

"I'm filing this action to hold the KCVA's employees accountable for their actions," Gill said. "Discrimination in the KCVA is rampant."

Gill said she worked there for 11 months as a medical support assistant in the radiology department. As a new employee, she was on a one-year probationary period.

Last January, she said everyone in her department left for the day due to bad weather and there were no patients on the schedule.

Gill's lawsuit says KCVA policy states that non-essential employees could get comp time for weather-related leave requests. Gill was a non-essential employee.

All the white employees, even the essential ones, were allowed to take leave that day, she said.

Gill also turned in her leave slip and left after texting her supervisor, but not hearing back. She said she had enough time off available at the time of her leave request.

She said she found out a week later that her leave request was not approved.

"I was given AWOL for that time and was terminated," Gill said. "I was told I had not successfully completed my probationary period, yet just a little over a month before, I had received a fully successful review."

Gill states in the lawsuit that she received a "Fully Successful" rating on a mid-year and year-end performance reviews.

Gill believes she was discriminated against because of the color of her skin.

She also believes it was retaliation because she said right before the bad weather day, she filed a complaint against one of the VA police officers. She said the officer harassed her as she tried to get into the building for her shift. She'd just gotten surgery and asked the officer to hold the door for her.

"Officer Hendricks became aggressive with Ms. Gill," the lawsuit alleges. "He demanded her identification badge, sought her name, followed her to the elevator and stuck his foot in it to keep the doors from closing. He followed Ms. Gill onto the elevator, followed her to the Radiology department, and followed her to her desk."

Gill said she wants her voice to be heard.

"I want the next employee, whether you're Black or white or Asian or whatever color, we are all human and we should all have a fair, equal opportunity," Gill said.

Gill is not the first person to come forward with these types of complaints. In summer 2020, groups gathered outside the VA to protest, calling for sweeping reforms.

At the time, a current staff member came forward to 41 Action News, saying there was a culture of racism at the VA.

Randles Mata, the law firm representing Gill, is also representing 42 other clients who allege discrimination against the VA. Most of the cases are still in the administrative phases, which is when the two parties try to work out an agreement.

In Gill's case, all administrative remedies were exhausted, leading to the federal suit.

Attorney Rebecca Randles said she expects about 30 of those clients will join for a class-action complaint.

Marites "Tess" Lustado Lybarger is another former employee who says she was discriminated against and took it to the courts. She joined Gill at Thursday's news conference.

"That specific person, management, will do it again and again because there's no consequences," Lustado Lybarger said. "Those individual management who did a wrongdoing to the employees should face consequences."

The VA told 41 Action News they do not comment on pending litigation.