A few months ago I wrote about Tonya Battle, an African American nurse employed at Hurley Medical Center, who was asked not to care for a patient due to her race. Ms. Battle sued the hospital and Hurley Medical Center agreed to pay a nearly $200,000 settlement shortly thereafter. Following Ms. Battle’s claim, others followed suit also claiming race based discrimination.
Now, however, the tables have turned and Mark Hillaker Jr., a white environmental technician employed by Hurley has filed suit against the hospital claiming that he is being discriminated against for being white. In his complaint Hillaker claims that his supervisor has made derogatory race-based comments towards him. Stemming from as far back as 2007, Hillaker claims that his supervisor referred to him as a “stupid white boy” and also involved other employees by saying "Don't do that, I will get my white boy to do it."
In addition to the inappropriate remarks made by the supervisor, Hillaker also says that he was threatened with discipline and physical violence on previous occasions. After ongoing problems, Hillaker said he notified the hospital’s upper management, but the abuse from the supervisor continued.
Hillaker’s attorney, Glen Lenhoff says "Reverse discrimination is a big problem in society," and "white people often suffer discrimination."
When asked to comment on the lawsuit Hurley did not respond, and Joan Pierson, Hurley’s attorney indicated that neither she nor her firm would comment on the allegations or the lawsuit.
Reverse-Discrimination a Popular Source of Discussion
Lenhoff indicated that reverse-discrimination has become a popular source of discussion in legal circles, especially after the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Abigail Fisher in October 2012. In the Fisher case, a white student sued University of Texas due to the school’s admissions policy that takes race into account when making admission decisions; Fisher was denied admissions in 2008 and asserted it was due to her race.
In a similar case, Patrick Hamacher sued the University of Michigan over its race-based admissions policy but lost in a 5-4 decision that sided with the school’s right to promote diversity. Recently Michigan voters approved an initiative which would outlaw race, gender or ethnicity being factors for consideration in admission. The proposal was subsequently struck down for its unconstitutionality, however Michigan’s Attorney General is appealing the ruling.
Though Hurley has yet to file a response to Hillaker’s lawsuit, his attorney hopes to take the case all the way to a jury
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