Sadly, it would be naïve to think the days of racism are so far behind the United States and the ugly beast of bigotry has gone into hiding forever; however it is not so utterly far-fetched to think, or at least hope, that race-based discrimination is kept to a minimum within the public domain, namely that of a public non-profit hospital system…unfortunately this is just not so!
Hurley Medical Center located in Flint, Michigan is being sued by 25-year nursing veteran Tonya Battle who claims that the hospital discriminated against her based on her skin color.
Father Requests no African-American Nurses to Care for Child
The story goes that Ms. Battle was approached by the father of an infant patient in her care in the neonatal intensive care unit. The man asked to speak to Ms. Battle’s supervisor to which she replied directing him to her charge nurse. According to the complaint, filed in January, the man requested that no African-Americans care for his child while it remained at Hurley. Apparently the request proceeded up the chain of command until it was granted, resulting in Battle being reassigned by her manager with an explanation as to why. Reportedly a note was put into the patient’s chart stating "Please, no African-American nurses to care for ... baby per dad's request.", although it was later removed at the request of the Hurley’s legal counsel, the sting and stigma associated with this demand remains.
Reasonably so, Ms. Battle was shocked and offended by the request, and by its grant resulting in her reassignment, which ultimately occasioned the filing of a lawsuit in January. It seems that the reassignment of African-American nurses went on for more than a month while the child was cared for at Hurley Medical Center.
Ms. Battle initially filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, though the process with the EEOC can take an extensive amount of time due to the near 100,000 complaints they receive annually. In 2011, the EEOC sued Jackson Park Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago, IL alleging that black female employees were segregated in job assignments. The parties in that lawsuit came to a pre-litigation settlement in the amount of $80,000.
Whether or not the EEOC takes up Ms. Battle’s claim, she still maintains her position in the current litigation which requests compensatory damages for her emotional distress as well as damages for harm to her reputation.
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