Hospital Sued for Honoring Request to Not Have African-American Nurses Care for Infant

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Tanya Battle is suing Hurley Medical Center in Flint, MI for racial discrimination.


Tonya Battle, an African American nurse, was instructed not to care for an infant in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) because of the color of her skin. The parents of the child specifically requested that the infant not be under the care of any African-American nurses on staff at the Hurley Medical Center in Michigan. Shockingly, the hospital granted the family their request. Battle was taken off the case and allegedly later told by a supervisor that the patient’s request was granted. According to Battle, a note was appended to the patient’s file that read “No African American nurse to take care of baby.” Battle was stunned, hurt, and shocked to see the file.

Staff members allegedly withdrew their agreement with the family and contacted them to let them know that they would not be able to honor their request; however, they continued to not schedule any African-American nurses to care for the baby. After 25 loyal years at the medical center, Battle resigned and filed a lawsuit for racial discrimination.  “Although attorneys for Hurley Medical later objected to the decision, as UPI notes, the hospital is believed to have honored the patient’s request for more than a month. Though Battle initially filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency tasked with enforcing federal employer discrimination laws, she is seeking compensatory damages for the emotional stress and harm to her reputation through the lawsuit”, reported a local news station in Flint, MI.

This is sickening and apparently it’s not the first time that a hospital has been taken to court for discrimination against their Black nurses. Jackson Park Hospital in Chicago was taken to court in 2011 after it was discovered that they were segregating African American workers.

How should the hospital responded to the family’s request?

Malcolm Morrow, a Your Black World Network contributor, is a senior, criminal justice major at The University of Southern Miss.