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Lawsuit filed against Albany Medical Center alleging racial, political bias

May 27, 2022 5:45 am

Steve Hughes is reporting for the Times Union a lawsuit has been filed against Albany Medical Center, based on allegations of racial and political bias at the health facility. Albany Med fired Jamaica Miles, a local community activist, as well as two executives who played a role in hiring her, less than a month after she joined the staff. Hospital executives had expressed concerns about Miles' political views and outspoken advocacy, according to the lawsuit filed this week in state Supreme Court in Albany. According to the lawsuit. Miles was hired earlier this year to serve as Albany Med's director of community engagement. She is a Schenectady-based activist involved in racial and social justice protests throughout the Capital Region, an active member of the Working Families Party and a member of the Schenectady City School Board. Her hiring was part of a renewed commitment the hospital was pushing to engage with communities of color. But once top officials at the hospital learned of Miles' selection for the position, they moved to dismiss her, citing "extreme political views," according to the lawsuit filed by Miles and Laura Liebman, the hospital's former assistant vice president of advancement, who also was terminated. James Kellerhouse, the hospital foundation's vice president for philanthropy and chief development officer, was also fired, but is not a party to the lawsuit. Miles and Liebman’s complaint alleges the hospital and its leadership, including CEO Dr. Dennis McKenna and Dr. Vincent Verdile, dean emeritus at the hospital's medical college, violated the state's human rights and labor laws by dismissing them. The lawsuit also alleges racial bias. Albany Med issued a statement defending its actions and denied it fired Miles for any of the reasons included in the complaint. "Albany Med recently made personnel changes in its development department that had nothing at all to do with the race of any employee," the statement reads. "Albany Med is a bridge builder. We are caregivers and unifiers, bringing together diverse populations for the betterment of all. Albany Med is proud of our diverse workforce, which is reflective of the community we serve, and we are committed to the highest standards of equality and fairness in employment opportunities for all." Miles declined to comment beyond what is in the lawsuit. "Everything that needs to be said is within the filings of the court documents," she said. Read more in the Times Union.

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