Lawsuit claims 75-year-old DeKalb hospital employee was fired due to age

Emory University Hospital in Decatur. SPECIAL Emory Healthcare
Emory University Hospital in Decatur. SPECIAL Emory Healthcare

A recently filed lawsuit claims a DeKalb County hospital employee was discriminated against because of her age and was ultimately fired for refusing to retire.

The Buckley Beal law firm filed a lawsuit last Wednesday against DeKalb Medical Center, which is now Emory Decatur Hospital. The firm’s client, 78-year-old Patricia Potts, claims she was fired in 2018 after she was pressured to retire due to her age.

A hospital spokeswoman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Emory Decatur Hospital will not comment on pending litigation.

Potts, a patient care technician and unit secretary at the hospital, said she was verbally harassed after the hospital hired a new manager in 2017. They both worked in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which is part of the hospital’s maternity services.

The manager, who was named in the lawsuit but not listed as a defendant, is accused of repeatedly calling Potts “old” and “crazy." In addition, the manager allegedly told Potts' coworkers that she “needed to retire” due to her age.

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On Jan. 12, 2018, Potts was fired because she violated an electronic infant security system procedure, according to the legal complaint. She had worked at the hospital for more than 16 years.

Potts, who was 75 at the time, claims that was untrue, citing improper training and adding that multiple younger coworkers followed the same procedures she did without termination. The lawsuit also says the manager plotted her termination and sought documents that would justify the firing.

“Instead of treating Mrs. Potts fairly and respectfully in the workplace, she was mistreated and subjected to blatant age discrimination at the hands of a much younger (46-year-old) supervisor,” Attorney Rachel Berlin Benjamin said in a news release.

The lawsuit claims the hospital violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and asks for a jury trial. The plaintiffs are asking for Potts to receive wages and benefits that she was denied or reinstatement to a full-time position with commensurate benefits.

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The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

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