Black worker demoted when she applied for top job at NJ senior community, suit says

A woman who applied for a director’s position at a senior living facility in Ocean County says she was subjected to denigrating comments by her supervisor and passed her over for the promotion in favor of a white woman with dubious qualifications.

LsShanda Kearny, who is Black, filed a lawsuit claiming she resigned from The Residence at Stafford in Manahawkin in July 2021 after she learned she was never considered for the management position, even though she filled in as director for six weeks and sat through an interview for a permanent position.

Instead, the company hired a white woman for the director job and transferred Kearny to a less desirable position, according to the lawsuit.

Kearny was later told that the position she had interviewed for was not for director, but for a “back-office position,” states the suit filed last month in Superior Court of Ocean County.

A spokesperson for LCB Senior Living, which owns The Residence at Stafford, said Thursday the company does not comment on pending litigation.

Kearny was hired by the company in mid-2020 as a medical technician and assistant to the director of activities. In the spring of 2021, supervisors asked Kearny to assume the role of director for six weeks when the director took an extended vacation, the lawsuit says.

About a month later, the company announced it was hiring a new director, posted the position in-house and interviewed Kearny as a candidate, the suit says.

During an interview with an administrator, Kearny says she was subjected to “numerous denigrating comments, including but not limited to being told that she should be ‘cleaning poop,'” the lawsuit says.

When the interview was over, Kearny was told a white woman was hired to fill the director position. “Why was (Kearny) not chosen for the position? Especially in light of the fact she was the acting director for the last six weeks,” the suit says.

In addition, the lawsuit questions whether the woman hired for the post had the necessary qualifications.

When Kearny approached her supervisors, she claims they told her she had not been considered for the director position and that the interview was for the back-office job.

“It should be noted plaintiff never applied for the ‘back-office’ position,” the lawsuit states, adding that upper-level bosses refused to answer questions about why she hadn’t been taken seriously for the director job.

Kearny claims in the suit she was re-assigned to the back-room job to prevent her achieving a visible promotion and as retaliation for asking several times about why she wasn’t given the director’s job.

The suit states Kearny submitted her resignation in July 2021 “as a result of her mistreatment by her co-workers and upper-level management.”

The lawsuit alleges administrators at The Residence at Stafford violated New Jersey Laws Against Discrimination by discriminating against Kearny based on her race, which caused her to lose her standing in the company, additional income, benefits and other promotions.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages for lost income, retroactive pay and punitive damages for mental anguish as a result of the alleged discrimination.

Anthony G. Attrino may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @TonyAttrino. Find on Facebook.

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