Spectrum Health asks judge to dismiss lawsuit alleging race-based staff assignment

A former nurse for Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Spectrum Health has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the company alleging she was not allowed to care for a patient because she is black, but Spectrum has asked the judge to dismiss the suit because the nurse did not receive any adverse employment action, according to mlive.com.

The nurse, Michelle Acklen, alleges she was reassigned at a patient's request because of her race. Spectrum did not acknowledge Ms. Acklen was reassigned based on race, but said she did not receive any punishment, hours or pay reduction because of her race. Spectrum lawyer Anthony Comden says those retaliatory actions are the basis for a discrimination lawsuit.

The case is similar to one filed by a Jill Crane, a black nursing supervisor at Grand Rapids-based Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, who also claimed she was not allowed to care for a white patient. Ms. Crane's suit was eventually thrown out in 2015 because she had not been the subject of retaliatory action.

"While Acklen claims that she was 'reassigned to another patient based on her race,' she does not claim that this reassignment affected the terms and conditions of her employment," Mr. Comden wrote to the judge, according to mlive.com. "In fact, Plaintiff points to no materially adverse change in the terms or conditions of her employment that she suffered as a result of the patient's alleged request."

Ms. Acklen said she "felt harassed, humiliated and discriminated against" as a result of the patient request. 

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