An all-White jury in Maine awarded $3 million to a Ghanaian native after it determined that his former employers racially discriminated against him when he was relieved of his duties.
According to WGME, the plaintiff, identified as David Ako-Annan, filed a lawsuit against Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center alleging the organization terminated him in 2019 because of his race and sex.
The 46-year-old worked as the practice manager of the organization’s Orono primary care location. In the lawsuit that was filed in October 2019, Ako-Annan claimed he was racially discriminated against by his supervisor because of the aforementioned reasons. But the hospital refuted those claims, arguing that their former employee did nothing to look into concerns of a high turnover rate at its Orono location after management raised issues about his performance.
The trial, which took seven days, commenced last two weeks. Up until his termination, Ako-Annan had been employed at the facility since 2013. And the hospital is said to have fired him a day after he came back to the U.S. after traveling to Ghana to visit his sick mother.
At the time of his termination, Ako-Annan told the jurors that his managerial role made him the only Black and only male to hold such a position in the organization’s five primary care locations.
The Ghanaian native is said to have gotten into disagreements with his supervisor a few months after the hospital employed her. She was identified as Donna Ashe. The plaintiff’s lawyer, Ryan Schmitz, told jurors that after Ako-Annan registered his worries to Ashe about White female practice managers being treated better than him, she responded by saying that could not have anything against the plaintiff because she has a “Black foster child, so please don’t talk to me about discrimination.”
But during the trial, jurors got to know that though Ashe looked after a biracial minor in the 1980s, she wasn’t a foster mother when she made the aforementioned claim to Ako-Annan, WGME reported. Ashe also testified during the trial.
The organization’s attorney, Kasia Park, informed the jury that Ako-Annan was relieved of his duties because he was underperforming. She also claimed the work environment at the facility the plaintiff was posted was “tense, stressful and negative.”
“David was the captain and his ship, the office, was going down fast,” said Park.
Prior to the jury selection at the beginning of November, Ako-Annan’s attorneys raised worries over the trial being held in northern Maine. The state’s southern area is said to be more diverse with regard to race and ethnicity. And though the Black man’s lawyers attempted to have the trial moved to Portland because they could be afforded a jury pool that was more diverse, the presiding judge rejected the motion.
Ako-Annan filed the lawsuit seeking compensatory damages such as back pay as well as the salary and benefits that he would have been entitled to if his employment was not terminated. He also sought punitive damages. During his testimony at the trial, Ako-Annan claimed he was yet to gain another job in his area of expertise, adding that it takes four hours to search for jobs on a daily basis. At the time of his termination, Ako-Annan said he had $120,000 in savings. But he said has had to spend $100,000 of that for living expenses.