Protest over anti-Haitian job posting

Protest over anti-Haitian job posting
Community Newspaper Group / Bess Adler

Caribbean American legislators in New York have expressed outrage over a job listing published in the New City Pennysaver that specifically excludes individuals who are Haitian.

The Ad, posted last Thursday, by Interim HealthCare, Inc., which considers itself “the leading home care, hospice and medical staffing company” in the United States, stated that female Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs) were needed at West Haverstraw, a village in the town of Haverstraw, in Rockland County. West Haverstraw is just over an hour’s drive from New York City.

The Ad stated that “no Haitian” must apply for the positions.

Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke has joined a number of Haitian American legislators in New York State Assembly and New York City Council in condemning the Ad, describing it as “immoral, unacceptable, despicable, discriminatory and racist,” among other superlatives.

“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,” said Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn.

“This job listing recalls a form of discrimination that was once routinely practiced in the United States, and should remind us that discrimination in hiring – whether explicit or implicit – remains a serious problem that continues to undermine opportunity for many Americans who are qualified to enter into a particular job or profession but, nonetheless, cannot find work,” Clarke further told Caribbean Life on Monday.

She, therefore, called for “a full investigation of this incident by the New York State Department of Labor, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, and the Department of Justice to determine the reason this job listing was submitted and published, and the prosecution of those individuals who are responsible to the full extent of the law.”

New York City Councilman Dr. Mathieu Eugene, the first ever Haitian to be elected to New York City Council, described the Ad as “despicable,” adding that it “illegally discriminates against a class of people and that is simply not something we tolerate in America.

“It should go without saying that I am absolutely disgusted that this Ad was published in a Rockland County classified section,” said the representative for the predominantly Caribbean 40th Council District in Brooklyn.

“I was stunned to see such an ignorant, hateful post, and I thank State Sen. David Carlucci for launching an investigation into Interim Health for the publication of this Ad, and I look forward to working with him,” Eugene added.

He also urged all Haitians and friends of Haitians “who believe in human rights and dignity” to join him in condemning “this abominable act and demand an apology for the Haitian community.”

New York State Haitian-American Democratic Assemblymembers Rodneyse Bichotte, Michaelle Solages and Kimberly Jean- Pierre also expressed outraged over the Ad, saying it was “illegal, discriminatory and racist against Haitian nurses.”

Bichotte represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn, while Solages and Jean-Pierre represent the Long Island, New York counties of Nassau and Suffolk, respectively.

Bichotte told Caribbean Life that “Haitians are being treated like second class citizens,” adding that “this type of treatment and discrimination should not be tolerated, and these companies should be held accountable.

“I am appalled and extremely offended not only by the blatant discrimination displayed by Interim Healthcare, Inc. but by the Pennysaver that allowed such an advertisement to be placed in its classified section,” she said.

“As a Haitian-American elected official, this really hits home,” added Bichotte, the first Haitian American from New York City to be elected to the State Assembly, calling on New York State Department of Labor and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to “file sanctions against this company doing business in the state of New York.”

Solages noted that New York State and U.S. federal laws “clearly” state that “employers cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color or national origin.

“Both Interim Healthcare, Inc. and Pennysaver should be held accountable,” she said.

Jean-Pierre also said “discrimination will not be tolerated in today’s world or in any profession.

“As a Haitian-American, every person, no matter their race, gender, religion, or citizenship, should have a fair chance to secure employment,” she said.

At the same time, Bichotte thanked Carlucci (D-Rockland) for his “immediate statement and actions against the Ad.”

She disclosed that she and Carlucci had contacted Schneiderman requesting that he take “immediate action” against Interim Healthcare, Inc., and Pennysaver “to correct this injustice.”

“The Civil Rights Division of the Attorney General’s office has been extremely responsive, and an investigation is currently underway,” Bichotte said.

In the wake of widespread condemnation, Interim Healthcare, Inc. President Katherine McNally apologized for the Ad, stating that the company values “the diversity of our patients and our employees.

“The Ad in the Pennysaver for an LPN is totally unacceptable and is offensive to us and, we know, to all of you,” she said. “I can assure you that we take this seriously. Please accept our sincere apology. In particular, we apologize to the entire Haitian community.”

In addition, McNally said Interim Healthcare has also engaged an independent third party to conduct a comprehensive review, and that it will reassess its policies and procedures to ensure that “such an Ad never again appears on its behalf.”

Bichotte, however, said that, despite Interim Healthcare’s latest action, “it is difficult to believe that their current policies and procedures would allow for blatant and illegal discrimination.”