CONCORD, Calif. – Workers at John Muir Behavioral Health Center joined by Contra Costa County County Supervisor John Gioia and the Contra Costa County Labor Council will gather at 11 a.m., Thursday, May 13 to protest a culture in the facility that permits patterns of racial discrimination and call for greater protections for their diverse roster of patients.
“We are simply seeking a safe work environment that treats all healthcare workers and patients with dignity and respect,” said Mawuko Tugbenyoh, a mental health counselor at the facility. “Our primary goal is to provide the best care for our community while getting through this pandemic safely. Communities of color, which have long struggled against health disparities, have been affected much more severely by the COVID-19 crisis, and those impacts extend into the workplace as well. Management at John Muir Behavioral Health Center can do much more to protect all of its employees and patients.”
Current and former employees have filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing the health care provider of discrimination, saying that Black employees at the facility have been targeted for disparate discipline.
“We’re all feeling unsupported and unsafe at work,” said Sara Eisenstaedt, a social worker at John Muir Behavioral Health Center. “But when it comes to who is being disciplined, there are different outcomes if you are a worker of color. We are seeing Black employees being unfairly targeted after speaking up about safety issues and workers’ rights at our facility. Discrimination in the mental health field is especially troubling – we can’t feel safe as a team if we’re not all treated fairly.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Renée Saldaña, [email protected]
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SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) is a healthcare justice union of more than 100,000 healthcare workers, patients, and healthcare activists united to ensure affordable, accessible, high-quality care for all Californians, provided by valued and respected healthcare workers. Learn more at www.seiu-uhw.org.