Jessica Sheffield, a Black employee at a West Los Angeles veterinary hospital operated by VCA Animal Hospitals Inc., has filed a lawsuit against the company, accusing them of racial discrimination and insensitive treatment in the workplace.
The discrimination and retaliation lawsuit states that Sheffield faced racial discrimination and endured derogatory comments from coworkers, as well as unwanted touching of her hair. Despite repeatedly reporting these incidents to supervisors, she claims no action was taken to address the issue, and instead, management retaliated against her.
Sheffield, who was hired as a veterinary assistant in September 2020, alleges a hostile work environment based on her race and/or color. The suit reveals that two female coworkers made offensive remarks about her background, referring to her coming from the “ghetto.” When she complained to management, her concerns were dismissed with advice to “be the bigger person.”
In addition, inappropriate comments were made about her hair, drawing comparisons to poodle dogs and using racial stereotypes. The facility manager singled her out with stern looks, ignored her attempts to communicate, and implemented a discriminatory dress code targeting her hair, which did not apply to non-Black female employees. When Sheffield faced a public threat from a racist customer, management reportedly failed to inform her for a week and took no measures to ensure her safety.
In response to Sheffield’s complaints, the supervisors allegedly engaged in a retaliatory campaign, isolating and humiliating her. They reportedly fabricated performance issues to pressure her into resigning, issued false written warnings, assigned excessive work without appropriate compensation, and falsely accused her of misconduct.
Sheffield’s experience is not uncommon. According to the lawsuit, African-American women in the district face a pattern of discrimination and retaliation that has become a “culture of fear.” The complaint seeks compensatory damages for emotional distress, back pay, front pay, and punitive damages.
People whose employers are violating labor laws and human rights must seek help from Labor Law Advocates in California is essential to understand their rights and explore possible legal recourse. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.