In Michigan, an African-American nurse claims she was ordered to stay away from a white patient because she's black. Now, her employer has some explaining to do. Andrew Keller reports.
Sandrea Butler claims a recent incident at her work is clear discrimination.
"I've worked for many other facilities and companies, and I've never experienced this," Butler says.
She's got 12 years of medical experience under her belt and took the job at the Shiawasee County Medical Care Facility as a nurse's assistant earlier this year. On Sunday, she says she was told she cannot care for one of her patients because she's black.
"I love taking care of people, that's my passion, and when it's stripped away from me, you know, because of the color of my skin, it's really disappointing," Butler says.
It's also disappointing to Julie Gafkay, who's worked on civil rights cases like this before. "It's outrageous that a medical facility would grant this request, especially on the heels of the battle versus Hurley Medical Center case, that there was a public outcry that a patient's request based on race would be granted," she says.
You may remember Gafkay. She was the attorney who handled the case of Tonya Battle, the Hurley nurse who also happened to be black. Battle was told she couldn't care for a newborn at the request of the baby's white parents. She says Butler's situation is very similar, "in my legal opinion, a patient can not request somebody to not work with them based on race."
Gafkay says her proof can be found in the body of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. "This is clearly illegal under federal law. I believe it's illegal under state law as well," she says.
But, Rick Cordonnier, the administrator of the Shiawasee County Medical Care Facility, says it is the hospital's policy. He wouldn't go on camera, but did say the facility's policy is in place to "protect staff members from potential allegations and adhere to patient privacy and requests".
And Cordonnier did add that Butler's complaint is being investigated.
Butler says, no matter what that investigation finds, the damage has already been done. "I feel bad because how can I go and do my job without feeling like, 'Hey, I'm black.'" she adds.
Butler says she's still not sure what actions she'll take. She says she wants to give her employer a little bit of time to address the situation and rectify it.
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