Worked at Pete Knight Veterans Home in Lancaster
A jury has awarded a former nurse $3.5 million in emotional distress damages in her lawsuit alleging she was wrongfully fired from her job at the William J. “Pete” Knight Veterans Home in Lancaster in 2019 for complaining about sexual and racial harassment by a resident, who allegedly called her the “N-word.”
The Los Angeles Superior Court panel deliberated for about an hour on May 5 before finding in favor of plaintiff La’Terra Veal in her claims for sexual and racial harassment, failure to prevent harassment and retaliation.
Veal also maintained she was treated with suspicion by management and passed over for promotions because of her race. Hired in 2017, she endured sexual harassment and racial discrimination throughout her employment — that included being called the “N-word” and a “stupid Black (epithet)” by a resident — and was ultimately fired the next year in retaliation for her complaints, her suit stated.
One of Veal’s harasser residents groped her breasts, stalked her around the facility on his scooter in order to limit her movement and waited for her in the parking lot when she arrived and departed, the suit states. Veal allegedly so feared the man that she called upon co-workers and security guards to help shield her.
Veal was so afraid of the harassing resident that she suffered panic attacks while at work, her court papers stated. When she reported her concerns to management, she was told that residents have rights and that enduring racist and sexual harassment from them “was an expected and tolerated part of working in the facility,” Veal’s curt papers stated. The stress from the ongoing harassment, and management’s alleged indifference, caused Veal to have a miscarriage while she was at work, her court papers stated.
The agency maintained Veal was fired for legitimate reasons and that the state Department of Social Services, which licenses CalVet, had informed them that Veal could not be physically present at the facility due to a March 2019 misdemeanor criminal conviction that was dismissed in November 2020.