Black-on-black discrimination trial ends with favorable Christus verdict
Christus Hospital St. Mary, accused of allowing same race harassment between two African American co-workers, received a favorable jury verdict last Wednesday.
Willie Mae Wiltz filed suit against Christus on Oct. 23, 2009, in Beaumont federal court, alleging that her working conditions at the Port Arthur hospital were so intolerable that she felt compelled to leave.
Court records show that Wiltz, a former security officer for Christus, claims her former co-worker Henry Cole, who is also an African American, harassed her because she has light skin from March 2006 until he retired in January 2008.
Wiltz reported the alleged same race harassment, but Christus supervisors failed to stop the provocation – even after Cole retired, who allegedly still harassed Wiltz in the parking lot.
On Feb. 5, 2008 Wiltz left the hospital under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Rather than return to work after her leave, Wiltz opted to voluntarily retire on June 4, 2008, Christus maintains in court documents.
During the trial, Wiltz alleged she was harassed because of her race and constructively discharged because of a racially hostile work environment.
According to the jury charge, on Dec. 7 jurors found no evidence of Wiltz's allegations, declining to award her damages for her perceived emotional pain and mental anguish.
Beaumont attorneys Stacie Augustine and Martha Campbell of the Strong, Pipkin, Bissell & Ledyard law firm represent Wiltz.
Germer Gertz attorney Larry Simmons of Beaumont represents Christus.
Federal case No. 1:09-cv-00925-ZJH