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Posted by Monument Health on Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Native Sun News Today: Healthcare employee claims illegal termination

RAPID CITY - Ashley Forney, an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, was terminated from her employment with Compass One Healthcare at Monument Health after she raised concerns to her superiors about experiencing racism and hostility from a co-worker.

Compass One Healthcare provides support services to healthcare systems that include food and nutrition, environmental services, patient transportation, facility maintenance, and laundry.

Forney, 30, had worked at Compass One for 6 months. She was let go when she entered a meeting with human resources on June 4 which she thought was in regards to her concerns of a co-worker. Instead of addressing her concerns, human resources fired her for an incident that happened nearly three months prior on March 12.

Ashley Forney, an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Courtesy photo

At the beginning of her employment, Forney had a normal relationship with the male co-worker that she would eventually have issues with.

“He was very nice at first, and we talked about my culture,” she said. “He asked a lot of questions.”

This co-worker had even given Forney a ride to and from work a few times, a gesture that she took well despite charging $2 for gas money.

Their relationship changed when the co-worker gave Forney a nickname, and requested a “Native name” in return. She simply responded to him by saying “I would rather be called by my name, and it is not my place to give you a name.”

The co-worker pleaded with her and asked her to recall the times that he had given her a ride home. “It was like I owed him something because he did something nice for me,” she said. “Even though I already paid him $2 for gas.”

When Forney originally approached her manager about this exchange, her co-worker denied having said any of it. Forney let it go and treated him like any other co-worker, but with distance.

The co-worker was not wearing a hairnet sometime at the beginning of May. Forney approached him and asked him to put one on. She recalls him literally dropping what he was doing on the floor and asking “Are you going to bother me today?”

At this point, Forney felt threatened by her co-worker’s actions. “I did not feel comfortable,” she said. “I did not want to be around him.”

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