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Did the Kansas City VA Medical Center sweep discrimination under the rug?

The Kansas City Veterans Administration Hospital has been under fire and mired in discrimination lawsuits for some time now. After the allegations were made public and the situation became national news, the Senate got involved and promises of reforms were made.

But, did anything actually change?

Lots of promises, few positive results

Workers say that pledges from the administration to improve diversity and make changes were largely theater — at best. At worst, it just gave the powers that be in the hospital’s upper echelon incentive to clamp down on complaints and cover things up.

According to one VA worker, who remained anonymous over their own fears of retaliation, “The outside, it looked wonderful. It was very pretty and wonderful. On the inside…I have seen people just become silenced. Their career growth has become stifled when they speak up.”

Some of the past allegations against the VA include claims that a Hispanic worker was “promoted” to a job with more responsibilities — but not given the corresponding pay increase her White counterparts were given. When she complained, she was verbally abused, denied breaks and given more work. A Black employee was physically assaulted and called a “tar baby” and “Aunt Jemima” by co-workers, and the administration did nothing.

The VA, however, claims it is doing better, and points to a survey from December that shows an increased satisfactory rating of 73%, but Black workers allege that they are largely disincluded from those surveys because they’re actually afraid to speak up for fear that they cannot remain anonymous and will face retaliation for their honesty.

Workplace discrimination is never okay

Situations like the one described above show just how entrenched problems with discrimination and harassment can become in the workplace when the upper management of an institution or business prefers a cover-up to actual change. Often, the best way to deal with something like that is through legal action. If you’ve faced workplace discrimination, it may be time to talk to an attorney.