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Civil rights violations at Michigan hospital led to settlement

In 2002, a study published by Johns Hopkins University documented that patients strongly prefer doctors that are the same race as themselves. A later study asserted that most African Americans felt that racism existed throughout the healthcare system. Several years after that study was released, an African American nurse experienced civil rights violations occurring at her own Michigan hospital.

She had been working at the hospital for 24 years when the incident is said to have occurred. While she was once of the nurses assigned to care for an infant in the neonatal intensive care unit, the child’s father requested to speak with her supervisor. Apparently, this is not an entirely uncommon practice in the healthcare setting, and it did not immediately raise any red flags that may have warned of what was to come.

However, she later received a phone call that the father had requested that no African American nurses be allowed to treat his child, and that the hospital intended to honor his request. To punctuate this point, the hospital even held a staff meeting to inform staff of its decision. The next day, a note was posted on the assignment board, though it was later taken down. The nurse, who allegedly had a spotless employment record, sued the Michigan hospital, claiming it had discriminated against African American employees.

The claim was settled, though the amount involved was not disclosed. An individual involved with the case pointed out that some hospitals ultimately commit civil rights violations against their own employees while attempting to be as patient-focused as possible. When such situations occur, those who have had their rights violated while at work may seek legal recourse through the filing of an employment discrimination claim. These claims may either be fought in court or settled beforehand, according to certain terms. If successful through either of these means, a victim may receive financial compensation for being discriminated against.

Source: Al Jazeera America, "The doctor won't see you now", Elijah Wolfson, July 3, 2014

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