Nurse Sues After Hospital Grants Dad's Racial Request

By: USA Today Email
By: USA Today Email

(USA Today) - A black nurse is suing a Michigan hospital after officials there submitted to a man's request that no African-American nurses care for his newborn, according to the nurse's lawsuit.

The hospital put a note on the assignment clipboard reading "No African American nurse to take care of baby," according to Tonya Battle, a veteran nurse at Hurley Medical Center in Flint.

Hospital officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.

Battle was working as a registered nurse in Hurley's neonatal intensive care unit Oct. 31 when an infant's father spoke to her supervisor, requesting that no African-American nurses care for his child. The supervisor passed the request to her superior and Battle said she was reassigned, according to her complaint filed in Genesee County Circuit Court last month.

Even after hospital officials removed the sign, Battle and other black nurses were not assigned to care for the baby for about a month "because of their race," according to the complaint.

The lawsuit states that while the father spoke with the supervisor, "he pulled up his sleeve and showed some type of tattoo which was believed to be a swastika of some kind."

Battle was "shocked, offended, and in disbelief that she was so egregiously discriminated against based on her race and re-assigned," according to the lawsuit which asks for punitive damages for emotional stress, mental anguish, humiliation and damages to her reputation.

Added her attorney, Julie Gafkay, in Frankenmuth: "I don't doubt that people have made requests like this in the past. You're not going to control the prejudices and biases of people. That's not my client's issue. The problem she has … is that her employer of 25 years granted (the request)."

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