State News

83-year-old state employee alleges discrimination in firing

Posted July 18, 2008 6:55 a.m. EDT
Updated July 18, 2008 10:58 p.m. EDT

— 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.