Clinic business

Black medical worker awarded $3 million in race discrimination case

BANGOR, Maine (AP) — A federal jury has awarded $3 million to a former Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center employee who says racial discrimination led to his firing.

Lawyers for David Ako-Annan, who is black, said the damages were the highest award for a race discrimination case in Maine.

“The essence of Maine is that we are one big family where everyone is treated with respect and dignity and no one is more or less important. This case is critical in sending a message to EMMC that it must redouble its efforts to ensure the fair and equal treatment of black workers or people of color,” said David Webbert, one of Ako-Annan’s attorneys. .

Ako-Annan, 46, of Milford, immigrated to Maine from Ghana, where he graduated from the University of Maine, earned a master’s degree in business administration and human relations and counseling from Husson University, and worked as a chief of staff in a primary care center. medical practice operated by Northern Light EMMC.

In the lawsuit, he argued his intelligence was questioned and he was subjected to bullying and racially insensitive remarks. He said an internal complaint of racial discrimination resulted in a disciplinary warning.

The EMCC argued that Ako-Annan failed to do his job properly, leading to his dismissal, but the all-white jury concluded on Thursday that he was the victim of racial stereotyping and implicit bias.

A spokesperson for Northern Light Health backed up the claim that Ako-Annan was fired for poor performance. “We continue to support our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in our workforce and believe that has been amply demonstrated in this instance,” said Suzanne Spruce, Director of Marketing and Communications.

The jury awarded $1.5 million in compensatory damages and $1.5 million in punitive damages. He is also entitled to more than $300,000 in back wages, his lawyers said.