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Lawsuit: Race-based request sidelined Michigan nurse


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#1 Happy Panther

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 02:54 PM

Does this lady have a case?

http://www.cnn.com/2....html?hpt=hp_t3

A nurse is suing a hospital, claiming it agreed to man's request that no African-Americans care for his baby.

The lawsuit accuses managers at Hurley Medical Center in Flint of reassigning Tonya Battle, who has worked at the facility for 25 years, based on the color of her skin.

The man approached Battle, while she was caring for his child in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit, asking to speak to her supervisor, according to the complaint filed in January by Battle's attorney.

She pointed the charge nurse in his direction.

The man, who is not named in the filing, allegedly showed her a tattoo that may have been "a swastika of some kind" and told her that he didn't want African-Americans involved in his baby's care.

The request, according to the lawsuit, made its way through management ranks, and was granted.
Battle's manager called her at home to tell her she would be reassigned -- and why, the suit says.

She was shocked and in disbelief, her attorney Julie Gafkay told CNN affiliate WNEM. "She was very upset. She was very offended."

The hospital did not immediately respond late Friday to a CNN request for comment.

A note made its way onto prominent spot on the baby's medical chart, according to the suit: "Please, no African-American nurses to care for ... baby per dad's request."

The hospital's lawyer then objected to the decision, and the note was removed. The staff then told the father that they could no long honor his request, according to the complaint.

Even so, the lawsuits alleges, for more than a month no African American nurses were assigned to care of the child.


I'll post my view later.

#2 BBQ&Beer

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 03:25 PM

Well, at first glance there's really not enough information to make a clear call. What happens if there is an emergency & she's the closest one to the baby? Should she just run & get a white nurse? With 25 years she's likely seen a lot. If a white nurse is making a horrible mistake should she keep her mouth shut & let it happen? If she does, can she be fired for letting the kid be harmed?

I don't know if she has a case but the hospital shoulda told him to fug off from jump.



#3 Mr. Scot

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 03:29 PM

Tough one.

Why sue the hospital and not the guy? (Yes, the obvious answer is money, but still)

She didn't really lose pay or suffer any penalty because of this, so proving "harm" on the hospital's part won't be easy.

Given that the guy is quite obviously a dimwit, who knows what trouble he may have caused at the hospital if his requests had not been met?

In a similar situation at say, a retail store, you can just throw the bastard out. A hospital refusing to care for an expectant mother because the father is an ass, though? Not realistic. Hospitals are forced to deal with all manner of morons on a daily basis.

Bottom line: Suing the hospital doesn't really make sense to me. Publicizing the incident itself (though within the confines of privacy laws) would seem a better option.

Yes, the guy is a twit and the incident is deplorable, but I'm not sure the hospital could have done much given the circumstances.

#4 Happy Panther

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 03:39 PM

Why sue the hospital and not the guy? (Yes, the obvious answer is money, but still)


Discrimination law doesn't apply to personal conflict unless there is some other crime involved. It usually only applies to employment and similar things...

#5 Mr. Scot

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 03:46 PM

Discrimination law doesn't apply to personal conflict unless there is some other crime involved. It usually only applies to employment and similar things...


Valid, but does reassigning a nurse to different patients (at a patient's request) really qualify as discrimination?

Is there any adverse effect on her employment, i.e. loss of pay or anything of that sort?

Granted it sucks big time having to deal with an idiot like that, but I sincerely doubt he's the first idiot they've had to accommodate in some silly fashion.

I've been in a position to have to deal with ignorant, bigoted people in a business setting before (I'd guess many of us have). Depending on what business you're in, options can be broad or limited. In a hospital, my guess would be they're probably very limited.

I go to church with a couple of nurses whose opinions I'll have to ask on this topic.

Ultimately, it's a lousy situation, but I don't know that there's really much legal recourse here.

People have a right to be jerkwads (granted, some abuse the privilege).

#6 stirs

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 03:51 PM

Tell his dumb azz to go find a mid wife.


"if you bring your business here, whomever is assigned that day will be the caregiver, male, female and any color"

go to Nazi hospital for your unique requests.

#7 Mr. Scot

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 03:56 PM

Tell his dumb azz to go find a mid wife.

"if you bring your business here, whomever is assigned that day will be the caregiver, male, female and any color"

go to Nazi hospital for your unique requests.


First instinct, yeah.

But then what are the consequences if, on the way out, something happens to the wife and the baby ends up dead?

(not the baby's fault that daddy is a numbskull)

#8 stirs

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 04:02 PM

First instinct, yeah.

But then what are the consequences if, on the way out, something happens to the wife and the baby ends up dead?

(not the baby's fault that daddy is a numbskull)


Well, yeah obviously.

Point was to tell him or anyone else who enters the hospital that you get what you get and do not choose which doctor is on call nor which nurse, etc. If he does not like the policy, it is on him if he leaves. HE is the one risking his family due to his dumbazzery.

Don't think the hospital should be responsible for granting requests. Was the doctor that delivered from India? Were similar requests made there? Just don't think they should ever open that Pandora's box.

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Have not been around for a couple days and knew SZ was itching to neg rep me, so I thought I would show back up so he could get his fix.

#9 Mr. Scot

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 04:07 PM

Well, yeah obviously.

Point was to tell him or anyone else who enters the hospital that you get what you get and do not choose which doctor is on call nor which nurse, etc. If he does not like the policy, it is on him if he leaves. HE is the one risking his family due to his dumbazzery.

Don't think the hospital should be responsible for granting requests. Was the doctor that delivered from India? Were similar requests made there? Just don't think they should ever open that Pandora's box.


Valid, but if I'm running the place, my worry there would be what kind of trouble the guy might cause right there in the unit. You're obviously not dealing with a mental giant here, and given the Nazi tattoos you can expect he's not afraid of raising a ruckus.

Like I said, the situation sucks, but in that setting, there might not have been much other choice.

#10 Squirrel

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 04:08 PM

She has a case. That was a unreasonable request that the man made. The hospital should have told him at the beginning that the request would be denied. What would have they done if he requested no male nurses to care for his baby? Probably nothing or only beautiful nurses to care for the baby. They would have denied that request too.

#11 jtnc

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 04:21 PM

Definitely has a case imo, this wouldn't fly in a restaurant, so why would it in a hospital? Disgraceful, that the hospital would accept this man's request, he has no say in which ethnicity cares for his baby. As long as it is taken care for. She didn't work for 25 long, loyal, years to be disrespected like this.

#12 Mr. Scot

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 04:30 PM

Legally speaking, other than having to accommodate the demands of a lousy person, what actual harm did she suffer?

Pretty sure any hospital worker would tell you that having to deal with crappy people is an evetyday part of the job description. Also fairly certain hospitals need better grounds to refuse care than just the patient or a member of the patient's family being a numbnuts.

Like I said, it sucks, but I don't know that it's good basis for a successful lawsuit. Realistically, if employers could be sued for making employees deal with unpleasant people, a boatload of companies would go out of business.

#13 pstall

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 04:45 PM

so this guy has allegedly a nazi tatto and lives in Flint? is that right?

#14 Squirrel

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 05:25 PM

She could have suffered emotional trauma from this. But to me that isnt the point. The point is it was discrimination and the hospital allowed it to happen. They granted the guys request, they where in the wrong and she has all the right to sue them .

#15 Mr. Scot

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 06:45 PM

She could have suffered emotional trauma from this. But to me that isnt the point. The point is it was discrimination and the hospital allowed it to happen. They granted the guys request, they where in the wrong and she has all the right to sue them .


She has the right to sue them. I just don't see her winning.

Like I said, if "emotional trauma" from having to deal with jackass customers was grounds for a lawsuit, pretty much every business that offered services to the general public could be sued into oblivion.

And how do you make a case that being assigned to other patients is discrimination? Heck, the hospital can argue that assigning her to this guy's wife would have subjected her to abusive treatment from him. Thus, they can actually say they spared her from emotional trauma.

In the court of public opinion, yes she has a case. In a court of law, it's not enough.


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