Fired manager files discrimination suit against Eskenazi Health

A former manager at Eskenazi Health claims she was fired after complaining that her boss was pressuring her to hire more minorities.

Tracey McInnes, who is white, said in a federal lawsuit she was dismissed in 2015 as program manager of Eskenazi’s Healthy Families Program, which helps high-risk families in Marion County learn effective parenting skills.

McInnes said the trouble started when her boss, Patrick Wooten, who is black, approached her in 2012 about the racial make-up of her subordinates, known as family support specialists. During the meeting, Wooten provided McInnes with a spreadsheet showing the races of her program employees, and told her “she needed to consider the disparities in the racial backgrounds of her staff when making hiring decisions and that she needed to hire more minorities,” according to the complaint filed Nov. 7 in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis.

On several occasions, Wooten told her that the program was “serving Marion County, which is primarily black,” and that Healthy Families should “represent the population it serves.” He also stated that she should not hire “white, college-educated females to go into low-income black homes.”

McInnes complained about the pressure to Eskenazi’s chief operating officer, Nancy Buxter, in November 2012. Later that month, the hospital issued a written warning to McInnes for alleged insubordination, neglect of duty and violation of Eskenazi values, the complaint said.

The hospital terminated McInnes on Oct. 28. 2015. At the time, she was told her position was being eliminated. She said the hospital later filled her position with other, less-qualified people, and did not give her the job even though she formally reapplied. McInnes filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint charge alleging race discrimination and retaliation.

An Eskenazi spokesman declined Thursday to comment on the lawsuit, saying any statement would be inappropriate.

McInnes is asking a judge to reinstate her, and to award lost pay, benefits, damages and attorney fees.

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