Nurse Sues Hurley Medical Center in Michigan for Alleged Racial Discrimination

An African-American nurse has sued Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Mich., claiming the hospital obliged to a man's request that no African-American nurses care for his newborn child, according to a Detroit Free Press report.

Tonya Battle, a nurse in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit, claims she was reassigned patients after a man spoke to her charge nurse and requested that no African-Americans treat his child. The incident allegedly occurred in October 2012. Ms. Battle also claims that a note was posted on an assignment clipboard that read "No African-American nurse to take care of baby," according to the report.

Ms. Battle is seeking punitive damages for emotional stress, mental anguish, humiliation and damage to her reputation, according to the report.

Update: Becker's Hospital Review received an official statement from Hurley Medical Center President and CEO Melany Gavulic, RN, on Feb. 20. Here is a portion of the statement:

"While I cannot comment on the suit and answer questions, I can share some insights. The issue was triggered by a father of a baby who demanded that no African American nurse be involved in his baby’s care. Upon making his demand, he then showed Nurse Battle’s supervisor his swastika tattoo, which created anger and outrage in our staff.  This resulted in concern by supervisors for the safety of the staff.  For these reasons, the request was initially evaluated; however, the father was informed that his request could not be granted."   

Ms. Gavulic said the medical center looks forward to a quick and amicable resolution to Ms. Battle's lawsuit.

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