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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Black Nurse to Receive $3.8 Million After Her Co-Workers Put a Noose and Several Racist Messages on Her Work Locker

Ellen Harris

Ellen Harris

Honolulu, HI — Five years ago, Ellen Harris filed a lawsuit after receiving a picture of a hangman’s noose and other racial messages in her locker at work. Last week, she won the lawsuit and has been awarded a total of more than $3.8 million in damages.

“I’m just happy that a Hawaii jury saw the evidence and felt that what happened to me was wrong,” Harris said in an interview.

Harris has been working as a nurse in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Queen’s Medical Center from 2006 to 2011 when she reported some patient safety issues that happened there.

“It escalated to the point where she reports a nurse walking by a patient–who is actually pulling out their ventilator tube–and not doing anything and saying, ‘Hey Ellen, your patient’s doing some crazy stuff,'” her attorney, Carl Varady said.

“She gets this the next day after making that report,” he added while holding up a copy of one of the notes that Harris received calling her a “Lazy A** N*gger B*itch.”

Some weeks later, she received another note with a hangman’s noose on her work locker.

“It was just kind of that fear after that, especially not knowing exactly who did it,” Harris said.

She reported the two incidents and requested the results of the investigation but the hospital did not give her any. She hasn’t heard even a single apology.

Varady said the Queen’s “never apologized, never admitted liability, tried to degrade and criticize and make Ellen out to be a liar.”

However, the jury ruled in Harris’ favor. She had been awarded $3.2 million in punitive damages, plus another $630,000 in general damages including emotional distress. It is claimed as one of (if not) the largest damage awards involving an employment case in state history.

Meanwhile, Cedric Yamanaka, director of corporate communications for the Queen’s Health Systems, issued a statement saying: “We are very disappointed in today’s verdict and will be filing an appeal. Because this is pending litigation, we will not comment further.”