Stanford healthcare employee wins $10m in racism, defamation case

A judge has ordered Stanford University and Stanford Health Care to pay $10 million in damages in connection with an employee's racial harassment case that included allegations of a staffer dressing as a member of the Ku Klux Klan.   

In March, an Alameda County Superior Court jury found that the two organizations had defamed patient testing technician Qiqiuia Young after she had sued the healthcare provider for racial harassment.   

Young's lawsuit, filed in 2017, alleges that coworkers used the N-word and mistreated Black patients. One image included in the lawsuit pictures someone, whom the lawsuit says is a Stanford Health staffer, dressing as a member of the Ku Klux Klan in what appears to be a patient examination room.     

"I couldn't turn a blind eye to what people were doing," said Young, who is Black. "I had to speak out. And when I did, they tried to silence me."   

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That KKK incident opened up a Pandora’s box at Stanford exposing both racism and safety violations, the lawsuit claims, which was filed when a cancer surgeon inspired Young she couldn't keep quiet any longer.

The day after Young filed her lawsuit, Stanford dean Lloyd Minor and Stanford Health Care CEO David Entwistle sent an email to 22,000 recipients implying that Young had been dishonest in her reports of racism and misconduct, according to a press release Wednesday from her attorneys. In March, the Alameda County Superior Court jury found that the email had defamed Young.   

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"Racist actions, including the incident that took place almost 10 years ago, have no place at Stanford Health Care," the health care organization said in a statement Thursday. "Those actions in no way reflect the organization and community we are today. We respectfully disagree with the jury's verdict and continue to pursue all post-judgment remedies."   

The jury initially awarded Young $20 million in damages, but Alameda County Superior Court Judge Karin Schwartz reduced Young's award to $10 million on June 13.   

"My client is a hero," said Lara Villarreal Hutner, Young's attorney, in the press release. "It's been a nearly decade-long battle of David versus Goliath. And she's won."