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African American nurse banned from handling white baby

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This was the request of the parents, but she is suing the hospital.  Should parents be able to request that, since they are paying for the service?

Should she be able to win a lawsuit?


African American Nurse Sues Hospital – Claims She Was ‘Banned’ From Looking After White Baby

WNEMTV5
WNEMTV5

An African American nurse is suing a hospital for racial discrimination , claiming they prevented her from caring for a white baby because of the color of her skin.

Furthermore, the medic – who has worked at Hurley Medical Centre in Flint, Michigan for 25 years – alleges the ban was imposed at the request of the child’s father — and that a note was placed by hospital staff in the patient’s file stating, “No African American nurse to take care of baby.”

According to the lawsuit,  Tonya Battle was working in the intensive care unit tending to a sick newborn last October when the incident happened, WNEM TV5 is reporting.

The father allegedly asked to speak with a supervisor after saying he “did not want any African-Americans” taking care of his baby.

Battle’s lawsuit states that during the conversation the father rolled up his sleeve to reveal a Swastika tattoo.

“When [Battle] returned for work the next shift she found the note,” the lawsuit claims.

“It was shocking to her. She was very upset. She was very offended. She was in disbelief,” Julie Gafkay, the attorney representing the nurse, told WNEM TV5.

Adding that the alleged note was, “on the outside of the [patient's] chart and visible for anybody to see.”

Although the alleged note was later removed, Battle claims the discrimination continued.

“Even though [the hospital] claimed they weren’t going to continue to follow that – they weren’t going to discriminate – they continued to de facto discriminate against my client and the other African-American nurses,” Gafkay said.

“For the next month they never assigned any African-American nurses to care for that child.”

Adding, “The problem that my client has is not necessarily that the request was made. People will have their prejudices and biases.

“The problem is the hospital actually granted the request.”

The hospital released a statement in response to news of the lawsuit: “Hurley Medical Center does not comment on past or current litigation.”

by on Feb. 16, 2013 at 9:47 AM
Replies (271-280):
LauraKW
by "Dude!" on Feb. 17, 2013 at 3:21 PM
The father / parents would have no basis to sue. It is perfectly legal not to give a "customer" an all white staff. Or an all black staff. Or an all Indian staff. The only impact the father has in this situation is to make a dumbass request. The hospital should have told the father that his child would receive the same excellent level of care from every employee but they could not discriminate against their staff based on the color of the employee's skin. End of story, liability avoided. Parents and patients are not granted every request in healthcare, nor should they be.

Some people have asked What if dad verbally abused or attacked the black nurse? To further cover their asses the hospital could have security go in with the nurse. If the father physically harmed or even attempted to harm the nurse then dad goes to jail. From the moment the staff became aware of the situation the hospital should have been in contact with legal counsel. The hospital had the opportunity to take control of this situation and they blew it.


Quoting AdrianneHill:

Hospitals are not hotels. They will try very hard to help you out and give you what you want but they still have a job to do.


People have brought up the possibility of the baby coding if only black people are around and saying "Would the guy want his baby saved?" and that is only half of the question. The question also becomes "Would he physically prevent black people from helping his son? What if there aren't enough whites to save his kid? Do the nurses push him out of the way and face the lawsuit for touching his kid against his racist wishes or do they face losing their license for not giving aid to someone who needs it after the baby dies and the father sues anyway?"


We forget that the father might think he is the one being served but it is actually the baby who is the patient. Does the father have the right to protect his son all the way to death to keep him away from the hands of a black nurse?


The hospital was in a shitty position and handled it badly. But its first thought should be on life saving. They could have tried to comply but they weren't changing the schedule around and if it happened then so be it
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Coffee_6117
by on Feb. 17, 2013 at 3:29 PM
2 moms liked this

The hospital could have handled it differently. They should have told them that they are in complete compliance with Title 7, and anything that compromises that compliance will not be tolerated. If the father then disagreed with that, the the hospital should have been more than willing to make arrangement to have the child transfered to another hopital for the "type of care" he was looking for. That is just good business sense which would have avoided bad publicity for the hospital and a law suit, that she will more than likely win, trust me I work with these types of cases.

LauraKW
by "Dude!" on Feb. 17, 2013 at 3:44 PM
1 mom liked this
If the patient or family created a hostile environment than the burden of liability is on them, not the hospital. It isn't illegal to be an asshole.

It seems you disagree that the father could not just take his child and go to a different hospital. If the child is too ill, the hospital would take legal action to stop him from removing the child. If the child were well enough to go to a different hospital, then the father could absolutely move his child. Would there be issues with the insurance? Most likely, but that would be the father's problem, not the hospital's problem. Would he be removing the child against medical advice? More than likely, but again that would be the father's problem. It all comes down to the hospital had two pathways to cover their ass. Concede to the parents and face the liability of discriminating against their employees, or follow policy and risk upsetting a volatile family. They made their choice and they are living with the consequences.


Quoting masonmomma:

And if they hadn't respected the fathers wishes, it would have been a hostile work environment as well.

Again, she was not discriminated against. She was still allowed patients, work, pay, hours, and so on. It did not effect her in any negative way.

Again, how exactly was the law broken?

And no, a patient can NOT just up and leave to another hospital to go to another one. That is a HUGE misconception apparently. I doctor has to justify it or it will be considered going against medical advice and insurance will not cover the stay. A doctor has to order it, insurance will not cover it unless it is ordered to better patient care (accepting hospital provides something current hospital doesn't). Then the hospital has to pay for a transfer. Switching hospitals is NOT as cut and dry as yall seem to think.

The hospital is not to bame. If they had sent her home, then yes, but they did not. People request specific caregivers all the time and the hospital has to do their best to comply or... get sued. 

Quoting lizzielouaf:

I'm mobile and can't cut these quote trees so I apologize for this.


By honoring the father's request the hospital created a "hostile work environment." for a month, everyday, Ms Battle had to endure an open display of discrimination based solely on the color of her skin, as did the other workers. An employer does not have the right to discriminate against a protected class and Ms Battle qualifies as a protected class. You don't have to agree and you don't have to like it but it is in fact the law.


The father, advocating on his infants behalf, has the option to request a white only staff. The father also had the option to seek care at another hospital, which is legal and within the patients rights. The hospital is not legally obligated to fulfill the father's request.






Quoting masonmomma:

And how exactly is it illegal??

Quoting lizzielouaf:

I will not insinuate what the hospital did was illegal because what the hospital did IS illegal. The hospital attorneys set the definition and advised the hospital and the hospital continued to go against legal advice.











Quoting masonmomma:

You are insinuating that what the hospital did is illegal and that is why I responded. Also, the precedence set if the hospital loses will be that people no longer get to choose their healthcare providers. Is that the important lesson you want learned? Do I think the parents are fucktards? Yes. But they are within their right and everyone should be able to choose who provides them care for whatever reason. Hey, I prefer american doctors simply because I can't understand thick accents and understanding what is being said to me concerning my kids or my own health is important, should I no longer be allowed to ask for one? Her winning the case is saying just that. She is just as bad as the parents. The parents saw a black woman and she saw an early retirement.






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Ktina11
by Bronze Member on Feb. 17, 2013 at 3:47 PM
This!


Quoting 4music:

 The hospital was screwed from the get go - either way they were goiung to be sued by either the nurse or the baby's parents.


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mcknitro
by Member on Feb. 17, 2013 at 4:22 PM

I will agree with some.  It was one baby and she could take care of all the other babies, whose parents truly care about their babies health and the best qualified nurse, not what color she is, and get the best care possible for their child.  I think maybe she over reacted on sueing the hospital as it did not prevent her from doing her job, just prevent her from caring for that baby.  I also think the hospital could have handled it better.  Maybe had a meeting about the asshole parents they are dealing with and that this is their wishes or some other way of dealing with it.  I guess that would be a hard call, as the hospital could have seen a lawsuit either way they went about it.  

I do think the parents are idiots, and I don't like saying that word about people and their beliefs, but in this case they may be endangering their child by not ensuring the most qualified nurses are taking care of their little one, and worrying about something as dumb as the color of someone skin.  How would they feel if their baby straightlined and the most qualified nurses to handle the situation were of color and the baby died cause non of the "white" nurses on that shift had the qualifications or experience.  Yeah, those parents are complete IDIOTS.

stormcris
by Christy on Feb. 17, 2013 at 8:04 PM

Ok I am seeing now why it would be because they placed the note. Sorry that apparently didn't register with me yesterday.

I do wonder if they did not comply though would they have jeapordized the nurses with this person. 

Quoting AdellesMom:

The employer very much discriminated against their employees. No AA nurses were allowed to touch that child for a month, they put it in the patient's charts, and posted notes. That's discrimination, it's illegal, and there's no way around it no matter how people my try to explain it away.

You see, it's the reasoning behind such requests that make actions by the employers illegal or legal. The hospital handled this case illegally, which honestly doesn't surprise me when I think about Hurley. A patient can request what they want, that doesn't mean that the hospital has to oblige by an illegal request.

But, you made apples and oranges comparisons. Accents aren't a protected class, and although patients have been accommodated for choosing a certain gender doctor over the other, that doesn't mean that it's right. It's still illegal.


Quoting stormcris:

I think you will find when it is subject to one exception such as this and not across the board as a practice it is not considered a violation but we shall see. The issue why it would not be is that they were still being treated equally as far as the job was concerned and the hospitals policies. If I am recalling another such case was where a man did not want any females working on him and they said it was not discrimination by the employer to fulfill the request in making an exception. It is has also been complied with for a patient to have only people who had no accents work on them. The reason being she could not understand them. It was discriminatory but was accetable. It is not a violation of federal law to discriminate on an individual case it is to do it on the whole to the group. 

The problem is that the treatment of any of those patients did not interfer with a person being treated less fairly than any other employee there because the assignment of one case over another has no bearing on on being treated fairly.

The text reads:

It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer -

(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or

(2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.


Since no singular case can provide for such an issue as to fall into those definitions then they cannot be charged with discrimination. Unless this nurse can prove it somehow actually affected her pay and/or opportunities at this hospital then she doesn't have a case.

Quoting AdellesMom:

What the hospital did was violate federal law. Their "bill of patient rights" doesn't trump federal law. Race is a protected class, and the hospital discriminated against their employee. What the hospit did was iegal. The patient made an illegal request, and the hospital isn't supposed to uphold such requests.





Quoting stormcris:

The hospital may not be at fault here. If the patient received a bill of rights and it said right to choose who treats you then legally they do have to uphold that as well. I can imagine in the future that it will have a discrimination clause but I doubt since many do not that I have read, if that is indeed the case, that they would have thought of this scenario.

The hospital is not actually discriminating as they did this with one exception based on the choice of the patient, but the family is and there is no law against discrimination on a personal level. It is not an act of a decent person but it is not illegal.



stormcris
by Christy on Feb. 17, 2013 at 8:05 PM

It apparently did not register about the note being placed yesterday. I can now understand how the hospital discriminated placing the note.

I am curious though if it is presented he has negrophobia then you do not honor the illness doesn't that violate ADA.

Quoting PurdueMom:

It is one thing for a person of one gender to request a nurse of the same sex.  A nursing unit will try to accomodate this because it is a personal privacy issue.  We will even try to honor requests when patients refuse a nurse with poor English skills because it makes some people uncomfortable (especially the elderly) and confused.  They can even request no nurses assigned to them that cannot speak clear English... but they cannot base requests upon race or ethnicity alone.

"It is not a violation of federal law to discriminate on an individual case it is to do it on the whole to the group."

The hospital placed a note on the patient's chart that no AA nurse was to be assigned the baby.  That is discriminating against the group, not the individual.

Where the law may decide against the hospital is also found in (2)

"... or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin."

The nurse who filed the lawsuit was humiliated, embarrassed, and hurt.  It doesn't matter that her opportunities or pay were not affected.  These feelings could very easily have affected her and her AA co-workers abilities to do their jobs.  This nurse has a very strong case against her employer.

Quoting stormcris:

I think you will find when it is subject to one exception such as this and not across the board as a practice it is not considered a violation but we shall see. The issue why it would not be is that they were still being treated equally as far as the job was concerned and the hospitals policies. If I am recalling another such case was where a man did not want any females working on him and they said it was not discrimination by the employer to fulfill the request in making an exception. It is has also been complied with for a patient to have only people who had no accents work on them. The reason being she could not understand them. It was discriminatory but was accetable. It is not a violation of federal law to discriminate on an individual case it is to do it on the whole to the group. 

The problem is that the treatment of any of those patients did not interfer with a person being treated less fairly than any other employee there because the assignment of one case over another has no bearing on on being treated fairly.

The text reads:

It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer -

(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or

(2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.


Since no singular case can provide for such an issue as to fall into those definitions then they cannot be charged with discrimination. Unless this nurse can prove it somehow actually affected her pay and/or opportunities at this hospital then she doesn't have a case.

Quoting AdellesMom:

What the hospital did was violate federal law. Their "bill of patient rights" doesn't trump federal law. Race is a protected class, and the hospital discriminated against their employee. What the hospit did was iegal. The patient made an illegal request, and the hospital isn't supposed to uphold such requests.


Quoting stormcris:

The hospital may not be at fault here. If the patient received a bill of rights and it said right to choose who treats you then legally they do have to uphold that as well. I can imagine in the future that it will have a discrimination clause but I doubt since many do not that I have read, if that is indeed the case, that they would have thought of this scenario.

The hospital is not actually discriminating as they did this with one exception based on the choice of the patient, but the family is and there is no law against discrimination on a personal level. It is not an act of a decent person but it is not illegal.




stormcris
by Christy on Feb. 17, 2013 at 8:06 PM

I actually know what that reads but I did not realize about the notation yesterday apparently.

Quoting lizzielouaf:

I'm mobile also and I tried explaining it but if people would like to see it written they can go to the EEOC website and read the legal definition and precedence for hostile work environment.



Quoting LauraKW:

You should probably review the plaintiff's actual legal filings for specifics. I'm on my phone and out of state at the moment but I will be glad to post that info when I get home tonight. Or if you can post it that would be great, we can all see what laws they are citing.



Quoting stormcris:

Would you care to show me where in Federal Law you feel this has violated?


Quoting LauraKW:

Your definition of discrimination is off. That is not the legal definition of discrimination, racial or otherwise.







Quoting stormcris:

If you asked a hospital to provide you with a doctor you can understand that is national origin discrimination....yet they still will if they can. The thing about discrimination is it has to be unfair to the person who feels they are being discriminated against in a way that puts them beneath the rest of the people who work in the same position. It is not as simply as one reassignment of duties that has no detrimental impact. Now if she can prove this deprived her of oppertunities for advancement or pay then she will have acase.

Quoting LauraKW:

That very first sentence is where your statement goes awry. Patients can ask for whatever they want. That doesn't mean the patient is going to get what they ask for. An employer telling an employee they are basing that employee's work load on racial criteria is discrimination. You don't have to like it or agree with it, but that doesn't make it any less the law.









Quoting stormcris:

The hospital may not be at fault here. If the patient received a bill of rights and it said right to choose who treats you then legally they do have to uphold that as well. I can imagine in the future that it will have a discrimination clause but I doubt since many do not that I have read, if that is indeed the case, that they would have thought of this scenario.

The hospital is not actually discriminating as they did this with one exception based on the choice of the patient, but the family is and there is no law against discrimination on a personal level. It is not an act of a decent person but it is not illegal.






stormcris
by Christy on Feb. 17, 2013 at 8:18 PM

I haven't actually found it yet. However, I did find the NAACP was contacted about this months ago and would not presue it.

Apparently the note in the chart did not sink in yesterday either.

Quoting LauraKW:

You should probably review the plaintiff's actual legal filings for specifics. I'm on my phone and out of state at the moment but I will be glad to post that info when I get home tonight. Or if you can post it that would be great, we can all see what laws they are citing.

Quoting stormcris:

Would you care to show me where in Federal Law you feel this has violated?


Quoting LauraKW:

Your definition of discrimination is off. That is not the legal definition of discrimination, racial or otherwise.



Quoting stormcris:

If you asked a hospital to provide you with a doctor you can understand that is national origin discrimination....yet they still will if they can. The thing about discrimination is it has to be unfair to the person who feels they are being discriminated against in a way that puts them beneath the rest of the people who work in the same position. It is not as simply as one reassignment of duties that has no detrimental impact. Now if she can prove this deprived her of oppertunities for advancement or pay then she will have acase.

Quoting LauraKW:

That very first sentence is where your statement goes awry. Patients can ask for whatever they want. That doesn't mean the patient is going to get what they ask for. An employer telling an employee they are basing that employee's work load on racial criteria is discrimination. You don't have to like it or agree with it, but that doesn't make it any less the law.





Quoting stormcris:

The hospital may not be at fault here. If the patient received a bill of rights and it said right to choose who treats you then legally they do have to uphold that as well. I can imagine in the future that it will have a discrimination clause but I doubt since many do not that I have read, if that is indeed the case, that they would have thought of this scenario.

The hospital is not actually discriminating as they did this with one exception based on the choice of the patient, but the family is and there is no law against discrimination on a personal level. It is not an act of a decent person but it is not illegal.




ILive4This
by Bronze Member on Feb. 17, 2013 at 8:35 PM

I suppose.


Quoting Bookwormy:

If the patient/customer doesn't like a particular care provider, that's one thing. But to refuse a class of care providers? I think that he then is forced to find a NICU that employs Whites only. If one doesn't exist in the US, then he is stuck with racially diverse care providers.


Quoting ILive4This:

In my almost 18 years in healthcare, I've witnessed patients ask not to have a certain nurse or RT (I'm an RT), many times.  Usually it's a personality conflict, and their wishes are granted.  I don't think it matters what the reason is, if a patient isn't comfortable with their caregiver for any reason, they should have the right to ask for someone they are comfortable with.  Don't get me wrong, I think the patient's parents are extremely ignorant, but they are the customer.

I wonder how they'd feel if their baby coded, and the only staff available to resus the baby, were black.  Changed tune, I'm thinking.




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