A "no black nurses lawsuit" lawsuit in Michigan Monday is causing a stir. Tonya Battle, 49, the African American nurse who sued her employer for honoring a man's racist request to ban her from tending to his white baby, said she is stunned. While Hurley Medical Center in Flint has not commented on the racial discrimination lawsuit filed by the black nurse, a backlash has ensued over the allegations.
USA Today, in a Feb. 18 report, followed up on the civil action the hospital faces for allegedly following through on the man's request to ban all black nurses from caring for his child.
"I felt like I froze. I just was really dumbfounded. I couldn't believe that's why he was so angry (and) that's why he was requesting my charge nurse. I think my mouth hit the floor. It was really disbelief," Battle recalled of the matter.
On Oct. 31 of last year, the nurse, a 25-year veteran at the facility, was caring for a baby in the neo-natal unit at Hurley when a man approached her.
Apparently, in keeping with the hospital's security procedures and to protect the welfare of the baby, she introduced herself and asked for the man's hospital identification band. Instead, the man scoffed at her and asked for the charge nurse, who was nearby.
Moments later, the supervisor approached Battle and told her the man did not want African American nurses caring for the baby.
Additionally, she informed the nurse that the man pointed to his arm, which had a tattoo of a swastika, during his request.
Later, Battle's supervisor called her at home and explained the hospital's decision to honor the man's request and that she and other nurses were being reassigned.
Battle learned later that a note of the baby's chart read:
"Please, no African-American nurses to care for ... baby per dad's request," according to the "no black nurses lawsuit."
A month went by and only non-black nurses were allowed to tend to the man's child.
According to court documents, hospital officials ordered the removal of the request on the chart and informed the man of their decision, after the facility's attorney advised against the decision.
A law professor said he thought the hospital's response to the man's request, if true, was "repugnant."
"The patient's father has the right to select the hospital to treat the child. The father does not have the right to exercise control over the hospital in discrimination of its employees," said Larry Dubin, law professor at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.
Julie Gafka, the attorney representing the woman in the "no black nurses lawsuit," admitted that it is not uncommon for people to have bigotry towards another race or ethnic group.
However, she believes and institution has a duty to protect workers from blatant discrimination. Therefore, the problem in this case is not necessarily that the man was an alleged racists, but the hospital fulfilled his request, therefore upholding the offensive act.
Should the black nurse have sued over racial discrimination or did the hospital have the right honor the man's request?