Joseph B. Hill was four days from starting a new position as vice president, chief equity, diversity and inclusion officer at Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston when he was fired.
Memorial Hermann’s human resources vice president, Lori Knowles, sent an email obtained by NBC News. The email read, “We regret to inform you that we are rescinding the offer of employment dated July 21, 2021. We appreciate your interest in the position and wish you much success going forward.”
This email followed an incident Hill had and shared with Knowles. Hill was driving from Atlanta to Houston to meet with a realtor hired by the hospital. While house hunting, he says he experienced several microaggressions from the realtor, a white man.
Hill told NBCBLK that the agent pointed out places he thought might be of interest, like a store owned by a rapper and a public golf course, implying he wouldn’t have access to a private golf course. The realtor also complimented Hill’s Porsche SUV saying, “That’s a nice rental car you have there.” Hill had actually driven his personal vehicle from Atlanta.
“It was a shock, to say the least,” Hill said. “I was floored.”
Hill sent an email to the hospital’s human resources vice president, Lori Knowles, to notify her of the exchange since the agent was a representative of the company.
He said he was disappointed that there was no attempt by Memorial Hermann to communicate its concerns before rescinding the offer. Additionally, “any comment or question I presented was done in good faith, with the best intentions for Memorial Hermann,” Hill said.
“The experience crystalizes why the Chief, Equity Diversion and Inclusion Officer role is important for Memorial Hermann,” he wrote. “Today, many companies are fraught with microaggressions that are unintentional or intentional that alienate employees. Memorial Hermann has an opportunity to truly leverage equity, diversity and inclusion to engage workforce, enhance the brand and increase positive patient outcomes.”