Breaking Brown

August 7, 2015

Black Nurse Who Says She Was Told Not to Care for White Patient Loses Lawsuit

Black Nurse Who Says She Was Told Not to Care for White Patient Loses Lawsuit

A Michigan nurse who alleges that she was told not to care for a white patient has lost a lawsuit against Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital.

In her lawsuit against the hospital, Tamika Foster accused the hospital of discriminating against black workers, claiming she was denied a promotion because of her race, reports.

Foster, who worked as a registered nurse from 2001-2013, accused the hospital of subjecting her to adverse employment action because of her race.

In 2010, Foster claims a supervisor told her, “You know, the people in 312 don’t want any black people in there … so just – for now just don’t even worry about it. Don’t go in there.”

Foster said the incident left her feeling humiliated.

According to U.S. District Judge Janet Neff, Foster could not prove that she suffered any adverse employment action.

“Because (Foster) suffered no change in her shift, hours, position, title, duties, status, pay, benefits or any other significant aspect of her employment, the alleged race-based nursing assignment was not materially adverse,” Neff wrote in her Aug. 6 decision.

The judge also noted records that showed black workers did in fact care for the white patient in 312.

“While (Mary Free Bed’s) acquiescence to a race-based care request appears inherently wrong and generally contrary to anti-discrimination law, the question in this case is whether this plaintiff can recover for intentional discrimination under the legal theories presented. On the record before the Court, the answer is ‘no’ because any effect on Plaintiff was de minimis (minor) and temporary,” Neff wrote.

Judge Neff did not find that Foster was passed over for a promotion due to discrimination, since a plaintiff must prove that he or she was qualified for the job and passed over despite their qualifications. The hospital disputed that Foster and the person selected for the promotion, a white woman, had similar qualifications.

Neff dismissed Foster’s discrimination case.

“Discrimination law does not yield to accommodate patient or family preferences or prejudices. However, the facts here simply do not rise to the level of actionable discrimination or retaliation,” Neff decided.


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