ABC12 Investigates: Hurley nurse sues, alleges race discriminati - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

ABC12 Investigates: Hurley nurse sues, alleges race discrimination

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(02/14/13) - Flint's Hurley Medical Center is under the microscope and at the center of a race discrimination lawsuit.

A longtime nurse says she was re-assigned, at the request of a baby's father, because she is black. She is suing the hospital, its board of managers and her manager.            

ABC12 spoke with the father who made the request.  He admits, when his baby was born in October and admitted to Hurley's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU, he did ask that no black nurses care for his newborn son.

He said the staff at Hurley granted his request - at least for one day.

The veteran nurse says the father approached her while she was caring for his baby. He wanted to talk to her supervisor.

Her lawsuit, just recently filed in Genesee County Circuit Court, alleges, "The father told the Charge Nurse that he did not want any African Americans taking care of his baby. While telling the Charge Nurse, he pulled up his sleeve and showed some type of tattoo which was believed to be a swastika of some kind."

The lawsuit claims a nurse manager re-assigned the baby to another nurse, then later met with another supervisor to OK the father's request and then also had a staff meeting to let others know about the decision.

ABC12 has obtained a copy of a note the lawsuit claims was prominently posted on the assignment clipboard.  It reads "Please, No African American Nurses to care for Baby per Dad's request. Thank you."

At some point after, according to the lawsuit, a Hurley attorney advised the nurse manager they couldn't do what they were doing and the father was told his request could not continue.

"After that, there still was this practice to discriminate against the African American employees and no African American nurses cared for that baby," said Julie Gafkay, who is the attorney for the nurse who is suing.

"There were internal complaints made and she felt the complaints did not get properly addressed. She also filed a charge of discrimination with the (U.S.) EEOC and that has not been resolved," Gafkay said.

Gafkay said the long time nurse, who has worked at Hurley for nearly 25 years, still works there and felt the only way to get something done was to sue.

"She's going to win this lawsuit. The real question is what's it worth," said Flint area attorney Tom Pabst.

Pabst is not involved in this lawsuit, but handles ones like it. Pabst said the father is allowed to ask whatever he wants, but the law makes granting a request based on race illegal.

"If you grant such a request, you're engaging in unlawful conduct," Pabst said.

Frances Gilcreast, President of the Flint Branch of the NAACP, also sits on the Hurley Board of Manager. The board is also being sued.

She declined to comment, but said the NAACP was contacted months ago about the allegations. It was anonymous and a complaint was never filed.

A spokeswoman for Hurley also declined to our requests for an interview, saying they do not comment on past or current litigation.

ABC12 tried contacting the defendants' attorney.  Our call was not returned.

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