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Michigan hospital sued for bending to demands of swastika-tattooed father

Published time: February 15, 2013 16:56
Edited time: February 15, 2013 20:56
Photo from facebook.com/HurleyMedicalCenter

Photo from facebook.com/HurleyMedicalCenter

An African American nurse is suing a Michigan hospital for folding to the request of a racist parent. The nurse was reportedly reassigned when a father with a swastika tattoo said that African Americans could not take care of his baby.

According to court documents, Tonya Battle was caring for the baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of Hurley Medical Center in the city of Flint, when the man approached hospital administration with his demand. 

"The father told the [nurse in charge] that he did not want any African Americans taking care of his baby," the lawsuit states. The man then pulled up his sleeve showing a tattoo believed to be a swastika.

The hospital responded by reassigning his baby to another nurse, the lawsuit states.

"[The nurse] was shocked, offended and in disbelief that she was so egregiously discriminated against based on her race and re-assigned," court documents read.

The supervisor then held a meeting with hospital staff, informing them of the hospital’s decision not to allow African American employees to take care of the baby.

But it didn’t stop there. The hospital took Battle’s humiliation one step further, posting a note next to the baby’s name on the assignment clipboard which read, “No AfricanAmerican nurse to take care of baby.”

The hospital’s attorney later told staff that they could not agree to such discriminatory requests – but by that point, the damage had already been done.  

“The discriminatory request was, in fact, followed in practice for the balance of the time the that the baby was in the NICU and African Americans, like the Plaintiff, were intentionally not assigned to the baby,” the lawsuit reads.

When asked for comment by Michigan’s WNEM TV5, Hurley Medical Center said it “does not comment on past or current litigation.”

Battle, who has worked at the hospital since 1988, is seeking financial and punitive compensation, as well as reimbursement for legal fees.

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