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Medical Worker in Washington Sues Hospital over Antisemitic Discrimination

Left: Fred Hutch Cancer Center. Right: Tammy Wietzman

An oncology social worker who alleged she was fired after voicing concern to superiors after being harassed for being Jewish, and for treating a patient who had cancer with ties to the Trump administration, is now suing for wrongful termination. 

Tammy Weitzman has filed suit against her former employer, the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, also known as the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, for racial and political discrimination and for targeting her when she brought the problems to her superiors. 

She told The Ari Hoffman Show on Talk Radio 570 KVI, that while providing counseling and therapy services for cancer patients and their families, when talking about her co-workers, “I was called a white k*ke. I was called a white Canadian b*tch… I of course reported those incidences to my manager. I had separate meetings with the two coworkers, and nothing was done to them. They remained working.” 

“Instead, I was directed to take a diversity training course.” 

Weitzman also said she was targeted for helping to care for the daughter of a former member of the Trump administration. 

She described how she “was always told by my manager, ‘You seem disinterested. You’re not speaking up enough during these race allyship, DEI meetings.’ So, I decided to speak up and we had a session, and I recounted a story of my adolescence, my youth, where I was at a friend’s house and her parents found out that I was Jewish and asked me to leave, and of course I left.” 

“I recounted that story and the facilitator looked at me and said, ‘But you’re white and you can pass. So it really doesn’t matter because you’re white and you can pass.’ 

“My manager was in attendance there. My whole team was in attendance there. The department was in attendance there. It didn’t, certainly didn’t appear to be an issue to anybody,” Tammy said adding that no one spoke up for her, “Not a single one.” 

Weitzman worked in the field for 23 years and at the cancer center from January 2016 to February 2021. She had a stellar record which helped her get raises and commendations but was abruptly fired on Feb. 5, 2021. 

“At the last DEI allyship meeting that I attended before my departure, and at the conclusion of this DEI session, a colleague had said ‘I’m gonna send out over company email an article for everybody to be able to use as the discussion points with our patients and their families.’” 

“The title of the article was, ‘How we are to use our skills and influence to resist the upcoming Trump administration and the hatred and violence that it inspires,’” Weitzman said.  

“They’re sending out to a hospital list to social workers over company email as a resource to use with patients and families and there was quite a bit in that article that I took tremendous offense to, and that I felt was a thousand percent inappropriate to bring forth, not only with patients, but at work, while work is going on.”

Continuing to the interview, Weitzman added, “I believe that when cancer patients are entering a cancer center, they are not thinking about who is occupying the Oval Office at the time. They are thinking about their lives. They are thinking about, what is my doctor gonna say when I meet with him? What is gonna be the result of any imaging or scans or MRIs that I’m gonna have? Am I gonna live? How am I gonna afford transportation, medication, they are not concerned with President Trump or how evil he is, how evil the left thinks he is, and certainly I was not going to share that with patients and with families,” Tammy said. “That’s the last thing they wanna be talking about. They’re worried about whether or not they’re gonna survive, not about what’s going on in the polls.” 

Weitzman brought the email to her supervisor, Tiffany Courtnage, who told her to take it up with Nidhi Berry, who supervised “Race and Allyship” training sessions at the Seattle cancer center and had sent the original email

Though the conversation was “relatively pleasant,” according to the lawsuit, a week later, Berry sent an email to Weitzman that said she was “flabbergasted that you, a white woman and fellow social worker, would choose to burden me, a woman of color, with your feelings and triggers around this post.” 

Berry added, “Trump’s administration did inspire hate speech and violence —this is a non-negotiable fact.” 

“You’ve mentioned to me previously that you identify as Jewish, which makes this interaction from last Thursday all the more bewildering to me, considering the anti-Semitism [that] is stoked by the hate speech and violence Trump’s administration inspired,” the allyship training leader stated.  

Berry copied Weitzman’s supervisor and HR on the email and said, “I will not privilege you or any other white person’s comfort over the safety of people of color and Black people, and I certainly won’t privilege your comfort over equitable patient outcomes.” 

A week after the email, Weitzman was fired because her “ethnicity sensitivity” and core values did not align with the values of her employer. 

The cancer center’s lawyer reiterated the reason for termination, stating, “SCCA is an anti-racist organization, committed to Workplace Respect. SCCA considered the fact and substance of Ms. Weitzman’s phone call to Nidhi Berry in January 2021 to be antithetical to those values.” 

Weitzman is suing the cancer center, along with her former boss Tiffany Courtnage and Berry, and is seeking compensatory damages of at least $75,000, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees.