'No Black Nurses' Lawsuit Gains Traction in Mich.

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By Sami K. Martin, Christian Post Reporter
February 19, 2013|7:31 am

A "no black nurses" lawsuit is causing a great deal of commotion in the Michigan area and across the nation. According to reports, the father of a newborn filed a request that no black nurses take care of his child; the nurse at the center of the situation has filed suit and spoken out about her experience.

I "didn't even know how to react," Tonya Battle, the nurse in question, told the Detroit Free Press. She was stunned when the father of a newborn allegedly asked to speak to Battle's supervisor while she was tending to the child's care in the neonatal intensive care unit.

The man then "pointed the charge nurse in his direction," the suit said, according to Daily Kos, "and told her that he didn't want any African-Americans involved in his baby's care."

Battle was then reassigned by her manager to another infant and a note was reportedly placed on the child's file that read, "No African-American nurse to take care of baby." No African-American nurses were allowed to tend to the child while it was in the hospital for over one month, even though the hospital was told the request was illegal.

"The father of the baby was advised that his request could not continue to be granted," the suit reads. "However, the discriminatory request was, in fact, followed in practice for the balance of the time that the baby was in the NICU and African-Americans, like Plaintiff, were intentionally not assigned to the baby."

Battle is seeking punitive damages for violations of her 14th Amendment rights, which caused her to suffer "emotional distress and mental anguish, past and future, injury to feeling including extreme embarrassment and humiliation past and future, outrage, and damages to reputation," the suit notes.

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"I felt like I froze," Battle told the Lansing State Journal. "I just was really dumbfounded. I couldn't believe that's why he was so angry and that's why he was requesting my charge nurse. I think my mouth hit the floor. It was really disbelief."

"What flashed in my mind is, 'What's next? A note on the water found that says 'No blacks? Or a note on the bathroom that says 'No blacks?'" she asked.

"I don't doubt that people have made requests like this in the past," Julie Gafkay, an employment discrimination and civil rights lawyer told the Journal. "That's not my client's issue. The problem she has… is that her employer of 25 years granted the request."

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