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Michigan hospital accused of racial discrimination

An African American nurse has filed a lawsuit against the medical center that employs her, arguing that the facility refused to allow her to treat an infant because of her skin color. The nurse filed the discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as well as a civil lawsuit. She is seeking unspecified damages compensating her for her emotional stress and the damage she claims she suffered to reputation.

According to the suit, the nurse was taken off an infant patient's case after the child's father presented hospital staff with "a swastika of some kind" and requested that no black nurses or doctors treat the baby. She claims that the hospital attached a note to the patient's file stipulating that no African American staff members were to be involved in the infant's care. The hospital reportedly abided by the father's request for over one month. The plaintiff also claims she was informed by a supervisor that she had been removed from the case due to her race.

If the EEOC opts to respond to the nurse's complaint, it will likely investigate the hospital and the circumstances surrounding the incident. If it uncovers wrongdoing, the agency would then either dismiss the charge to allow the nurse to pursue her lawsuit or file its own discrimination claim on her behalf. However, it is unclear whether the EEOC will join the woman's cause; it typically takes on just a few of the 99,000 discrimination complaints it receives each year.

The EEOC recently achieved a substantial victory for black female medical employees in another hospital after they complained they were being segregated due to their race and sex. The EEOC filed a class action discrimination lawsuit for the women and eventually brokered an $80,000 with the medical center's owners.

Source: Huffington Post, "Tonya Battle, African American Nurse, Sues Michigan Hospital For Race Discrimination," Sara Gates, Feb. 16, 2013

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