Protesters claim nearly 100 race discrimination complaints filed at VA Medical Center

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Claims of nearly 100 race discrimination complaints at the VA Medical Center prompted a protest outside the hospital Monday morning.

Black leaders want an external investigation of the medical center’s operations.

FOX4 first reported on racial discrimination claims at the Veterans Administration in March, before the coronavirus crisis dominated the news.

Shominicia Banks says she was fired from her position as a health tech at the VA the day after FOX4 broadcast a report on discrimination complaints. Banks says she was passed over for training to advance her career and did not get bonuses her fellow workers received.

She claims black workers are treated differently at the hospital and many are afraid to speak out for fear of being disciplined.

“Some of the employees still work in the building,” Banks explained. “They are scared because they retaliate. When you speak up peacefully, I, myself, spoke up to the director himself. I spoke to him and told him about the experience. He did nothing. He signed my wrongful termination. He signed the paperwork.”

The workers are supported in their protest by the local branch of the NAACP, which sent the VA a letter in March expressing concern about how the hospital treats black workers. Other local civil rights groups say they will continue rallies in front of the medical center every Monday until their complaints are investigated.

A public information officer for the Veterans Administration provided this response to FOX4 on Monday afternoon:

The Kansas City VA Medical Center is proud of its diverse and inclusive culture, and the facility does not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind.

Kansas City VAMC encourages employees who feel they are encountering discrimination or harassment to contact the facility’s Equal Employment Opportunity Manager or Employee Threat Assessment Team. They may also contact the VA’s Office of Resolution Management at 1-888-566-3982.

Every complaint is thoroughly investigated and handled appropriately. Based on the outcome of that process, VA takes appropriate personnel actions, if warranted.

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