Former employee sues Duke University Health System, alleging he was fired in retaliation for reporting his supervisor’s ‘discriminatory employment practices’, lawsuit alleges deposit May 5.
Matthew Freetage is suing Duke in the U.S. District Court in North Carolina for retaliation and wrongful dismissal.
Freetage’s complaint states that he was hired as Director of Operations for the Environmental Services Department at Duke Regional Hospital on September 14, 2020. During his first meeting with his supervisor, Freetage was asked ” if he had a problem supervising ‘black people'” and was told to “start writing ‘those people’ in order to ‘keep them in line’.
Later in September, Freetage said he “overheard a conversation regarding management’s instructions to ‘clean up’ his department, specifically discussing their intent to fire ‘colored’ workers they deemed lazy “.”
When Freetage mentioned health system diversity training and asked if it would be applicable in this situation, an administrative assistant “laughed” and replied, “Yeah, that’s bullshit. We don’t do that here. It’s all for show,” according to the complaint.
The lawsuit says Freetage reported this conversation to the health system’s human resources department. He was told his concerns were a “priority,” but no disciplinary action was taken against the employees involved in the conversation, according to the complaint.
In December 2020, Freetage submitted a letter to the Health System Hearing Panel after a black colleague was fired. In it, he alleged that the employee was terminated due to “serious mistreatment, discrimination and harassment by management personnel,” the complaint states. He also reported that his manager told him to write “blacks”. Again, no disciplinary action was taken in response.
The complaint says Freetage’s supervisor instead made “false reports” about his job performance during his 120-day performance review.
On Jan. 11, 2021, Freetage was fired by that same supervisor, according to the lawsuit.
A summons was issued to the Duke University Health System on May 6, according to court records.
The Chronicle contacted Sarah Avery, director of the Duke Health News Office, who replied that she had “no comment on ongoing litigation”.
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| Chief Editor
Milla Surjadi is a sophomore at Trinity and editor of the 118th volume of The Chronicle.