Lawsuit: Race-based request sidelined Michigan nurse (Participation)

Lawsuit: Race-based request sidelined Michigan nurse

By Ben Brumfield, CNN
updated 1:35 PM EST, Sat February 16, 2013

(CNN) — 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.


6 thoughts on “Lawsuit: Race-based request sidelined Michigan nurse (Participation)

  1. This right here demonstrates how immature some people can be. What is so wrong about an African American nurse taking care of your child? There is nothing wrong with that, the only difference is the color of their skin. Not only was the baby’s dad wrong for demanding that no African American nurses take care of his child, the people that agreed and helped that happen were wrong also. Those people only made it seem like the fathers request was correct when it actually wasn’t. If I were them I would have just told the father that what he was asking for was not going to happen and if he didn’t like it he could try going to another hospital. I was very happy to hear that there were actually mature people in that hospital when the fathers request got denied when it reached the hospitals lawyers.

  2. Ignorant, that is what I think of the father in this situation. By reading this article we know that the father clearly made the decision based on the fact that she is an African-American. Not that she may be less qualified, less experience, or another logical reason. If anything she may be more qualified than other white nurses in the hospital since she has 25 years of experience at that facility, possibly more years at others. The fact that the hospital acknowledged the fathers request is also just as disturbing compared to the request its self. However, everyone does have their rights to ask what they would like but in a situation such as this the hospital needs to put its foot down and say no. It happened eventually once it reached the hospital lawyers to remove the note yet still for over a month only white nurses tended to this baby. In the end someone was mature enough to realize that they could not do that, however, the lawsuit still continues.
    -Ryan Randall

  3. I am disgusted at not only the request made by the father but the fact that the hospital had agreed to his requests. I am very upset at the fact that although it was eventually stopped and taken care of by the hospital lawyers, it had to go on for so long. There is no reason that keeping the African American nurses from taking care of this baby had to last for at least a month and up until that point, nobody had done anything. I give props to the nurse who stood up for herself and is now taking charge.

  4. When a baby ends up in the neonatal intensive care unit, that baby needs incredible amounts of help to survive. Babies that stay in the NICU need 24 hour surveillance and care. For most parents, time spent in the NICU is stressful. The fact that a father spent time worrying about the color of the skin of the nurses taking care of his struggling baby is disgusting. When he should have been concerned with the health of his child, we was concerned with skin color. I am in awe that a note was written on the the baby’s chart that asked African Americans not to care for the baby. I feel that this hospital should, without a doubt, be sued. I feel bad for the baby that was born to such an ignorant father.

  5. Unfortunately, it is really obvious that some important details about the whole situation has been left out of this article. Until we know more about the situation, we cannot accurately comment on the intentions of the man nor the staff.

    Going off what little information that we do have, this is yet another example of how racial prejudices can affect others. By being reassigned, Tonya Battle was affected by the man’s actions. All this relates to class discussions about how people still continue to be affected by the racial divide.

  6. This article goes to show that people are mindless as to what is going on in the world or where we haven’t gotten today. This man did not take her experience or knowledge in to consideration when he asked for a white nurse. The color of skin does not advance ones learning or skills in a hospital. He was willing to risk someone of color who had experience for a white nurse that could have had less working hours. It is ridiculous that he would make such an immature request. Getting beyond the patients request, the hospital responded in an unprofessional manner that gave positive reinforcement to the man’s beliefs. The hospital is just as at fault as the man for discrimination especially against someone they hired themselves. The hospital should be sued for accommodating such a ridiculous raciest request.

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