Brooklyn Councilmember Dr. Mathieu Eugene has strongly denounced what he regards as “a hateful job posting” in a New York publication that specifically excludes individuals who are Haitian.
The Ad in New York City Pennysaver, posted by Interim HealthCare, 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, New York. West Haverstraw is just over an hour’s drive from New York City.
The Ad, which has since been removed, stated that “no Haitian” must apply for the position.
At a press conference on the steps of City Hall in lower Manhattan on Thursday, Eugene, the first ever Haitian to be elected to New York City Council, demanded “respect and justice for Haitian nurses and the Haitian community.
Eugene, who represents the predominantly Caribbean 40th Council District in Brooklyn, was joined by a host of city and State elected officials, as well as the Haitian American Nurses Association, the New York State Nursing Association and members of the Haitian community.
Others who joined the press conference were the healthcare workers’ union 1199SEIU, supporters from the union 32BJ, members of New York’s largest public employee union DC 37, religious leaders and human rights activists.
“It should go without saying that we are absolutely disgusted that this Ad was published in a Rockland County classified section,” Eugene said. “This is the 21st century. A job posting that illegally discriminates against a class of people is simply not something we will tolerate in America.
“Even though this Ad discriminated against Haitians, this type of reprehensible behavior hurts all of us,” he added. “As a society, we must stop this type of hate. Nurses do God’s work. Nurses work long hours to tend to our most vulnerable residents.
“To discriminate against a nurse simply because she is of Haitian descent is not only incredibly offensive and hateful, but it is illegal and won’t be tolerated in our city or country,” he continued.
“An attack on the Haitian community is an attack on every community,” said Eugene’s City Council colleague, Mark Treyger. “Every one of us has the right to seek employment for which we are properly qualified.
“The fact that discrimination and intolerance such as this still exists in our great city - one of the most diverse cities in the world - is both outrageous and disappointing,” he added. “We know that the act was criminal, but we need to also stress the extent to which it was ignorant.
“The free world owes a debt of gratitude to the nation of Haiti for inspiring the movement for liberty and freedom, particularly during and after the Haitian Revolution,” Treyger continued. “I encourage all of us, as citizens and as human beings, to stand up and speak out against this type of exclusionary, prejudiced action. Every one of us must work together so mindless bigotry like this can finally and completely be a thing of the past.”
Registered Nurse Jacqueline Cassagnol, founder and president of the New York-based Worldwide Community First Responder, Inc. said “racism is rooted in ignorance and the false sense of superiority.
“This only points out how much work we still need to do as a nation when a major company can create such an Ad, and a newspaper/magazine would actually print this Ad,” she said.
“This cannot be tolerated at any level; to do so, only helps to foster and embolden such ridiculous ideas,” she added.
Last week, Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke joined several Haitian American legislators in New York State Assembly 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 9thCongressional District in Brooklyn.
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 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.”
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.”