State News

83-year-old state employee alleges discrimination in firing

Posted July 18, 2008

— An 83-year-old part-time worker at John Umstead Hospital in Butner has sued to regain her job.

Annie Allen had worked at the hospital 36 years, most recently in the sewing room, when she was fired in January.

Allen said she was told it took her too long to use the bathroom and that her 54-year-old supervisor said that Allen was too old.

"I couldn't go to the bathroom unless I told her I had to go to the bathroom. I said, 'Who died and left you a queen?' is what is asked her," Allen said.

"She said, 'You are too old, and I don't like, we don't want no black people working here,'" she said the supervisor told her.

In her complaint filed with the Office of Administrative Hearings, Allen said she complained to Steve Bruno, Umstead's assistant director, "but he said before he could get back to me, I had been discharged."

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Human Services declined to comment on the case, calling it a personnel matter.

Allen said she took her case to a union and then hired an attorney.

She filed a complaint in March with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming she was discriminated against on the basis of age and race. The lawsuit said her former supervisor, Aimee Hight, is Asian.

In its response to the suit, the state alleges that Allen threatened Hight and used abusive language. Allen denies the charges.

"Till then end of time, I'm going to fight them. I'm not going to stop," she said. "It's important to me because they done me dirty. They done me dirty."

She said she doesn't want her job back, but does want compensation.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • teacher-mom Jul 18, 2008

    I am sure this is one of those cases with three sides. I cannot believe a person in a supervisory position would say what the older lady said about not wanting any black people in that department. It could have happened. However, the older lady does not want her job back, she wants compensation! Enough said.

  • CrewMax Jul 18, 2008

    She doesn't want her job back, just compensation. That could be
    insight into how she handled the job to begin with.

  • A1 Go Canes Jul 18, 2008

    Has anyone on this board seen the older lady's personnel file? I didn't think so. She could have been using the bathroom every 30 minutes and staying for 10 minutes at a time. If this was a younger person, say maybe 30, would you want them to stay on the payroll? I think not. The lady even stated (I heard this differently in the on-air story), "I asked her who died and made you queen." SHE WAS HER SUPERVISOR! What kind of person says that to a supervisor? A person who doesn't care about their job. Furthermore, yesterday it was stated she was a part-time employee. Part-time employees are easier to release if I'm not mistaken but if the State is anything like local government, it takes an enormous amount of paperwork to justify firing an employee. I bet her personnel file has a few disciplinary reports.

  • that_judi_girl Jul 18, 2008

    Regarding the comments made regarding NC being an "at-will" state. State employees have property status to their job after 24 months and can only be fired for just cause. They also have an appeals right. The process of getting rid of an employee who is not performing a difficult one. The supervisor better have everything documented. She also has had to have met with the employee, given a warning, a corrective action plan for improvement, etc, etc...

  • seeingthru Jul 18, 2008

    my inlaws are 87 and 85 respectively--I doubt I could keep up with them, to say they have a full calendar is an understatement, that said they have been retired for ages and mother in law only worked8 yrs in her entire life!! but some folks live to work--without it they no longer feel "useful", give up and die!!

  • stupiditydeservesnosympathy Jul 18, 2008

    At 83, I would have retired.

    But then here retirement benefits were most likely so low that she had to work in order to make ends meet.

  • AX Jul 18, 2008

    When was there ever a race card? Where can these be purchased and redeemend?

  • Defcon Labs Jul 18, 2008

    The state agency that is involved in this article is going to denied everything at all cost even, when they are at fault. The state agency that is involved is just going to use the attorney general office to hind behind, the fact, what they did was wrong, and used the attorney general office to come up with some bs loop hole to get this lady complaint/lawsuit to be dismissed, even if the state agency was at fault. The attorneys who work for the attorney general office knows that the state agency is wrong, but however the duties of that attorney general office is to assist/defend the state agency by denied everything even knowling what they did was wrong, and get the lawsuit dismissed at all cost. When I seen this happen serveral times.

  • OrdinaryCitizen Jul 18, 2008

    "If you think the "N" word is just a word, one without meaning, stroll through the Shaw or NCCU campus and shout it out to everyone you see."

    If I was Black would that still be a problem?

  • Six String Jul 18, 2008

    daMoFo, you're right. To paraphrase the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, "You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts."