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Old 11-29-2011, 08:45 PM
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Default Nurse Fired For Treating Muslim Women

Nurse Says He Was Fired Over Treating Muslim Women


Published November 24, 2011 | Associated Press


A male registered nurse and Viet Nam Army medic has sued the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, saying he was fired for disobeying a Muslim supervisor's order not to treat women wearing conservative Islamic dress.

John Benitez Jr. filed a sex discrimination suit Wednesday in Detroit U.S. District Court after getting the go-ahead from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a "right to sue" letter Oct. 19. The Associated Press left phone and email messages during the Thanksgiving holiday seeking comment from Dearborn officials. The Detroit News said a Dearborn spokeswoman declined comment.

In a complaint filed on his behalf, his lawyer, Deborah L. Gordon, said Benitez joined Dearborn's Health Department in September 2010. The 63-year-old Madison Heights resident has a three-decade nursing career. Dearborn has a large Muslim community and one of the largest Arab immigrant communities in the U.S.
Soon after starting work, Gordon said a Muslim supervisor told Benitez to refer patients wearing hijab to her, rather than treating them himself.

The complaint said Benitez complied until Nov. 17, 2010, when a doctor saw what he was doing and questioned him "about the cumbersome and unusual practice of taking women wearing a head scarf to the nursing supervisor for care," rather than going ahead and treating them. The complaint said Benitez then began complying with the new instruction that he treat women wearing hijab.

On Dec. 1, 2010, Gordon said Benitez was fired. She said he was told it was "not because of any performance problem, but was instead carried out because the clinic's conservative male Muslim clientele did not want a male treating female patients."
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Old 11-30-2011, 04:42 AM
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She said he was told it was "not because of any performance problem, but was instead carried out because the clinic's conservative male Muslim clientele did not want a male treating female patients."


So these Muslim males that were there for treatment did not want their Muslim women treated by a male medical staff member?

Hmmmm maybe they should have women going to a separate area to be treated while wearing the hijab so these male Muslim patients do not get their knickers in a twist.

You know I believe in maintaining their ethical and moral beliefs but as long as these women are getting the treatment they surely deserve.

I believe firing this guy was too harsh a treatment.
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Old 11-30-2011, 07:32 AM
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I could sit here and say I want the nurse to win and that the "conservative Muslim men" should seek their services elsewhere if they want that kind of control over the environment (such as 1:1 at home service), and I can also debate against the nurse in the name of cultural sensitivity (which nursing claims to support/have).

In the end, as with all judicial issues, it comes down to..............who was negligent? Very easy to say it was the nurse for not being sensitive to his patients cultural needs, but I'm not ready to settle on that as my interpretation of it.

I think this nurse found himself in the same situation most actively working nurses are in themselves. Healthcare boasts a "personal touch" and all these wonderful quality measures that are simply fictional. Most of them can be found in books between Jack's magic beans and the golden egg laying goose.

Many institutions prey on consumers who believe the hype about what healthcare is meant to be, but deliver only generic care delivered in a working factory style. They preach spending time with patients, say they expect error free/safe care to be delivered and are quick to give big speeches about the importance of being "professional" in everything we do.........and they follow this all up by creating an environment where simply "getting out alive" takes a lot of work/energy from the nursing staff and a little luck. I can't help but recall the patient who, having been to one of the more infamous units in my old hospital, had a T-shirt printed that said "I survived [insert unit number ie....5East]. A handful of what you do outweighs a truckload of what you say. What the healthcare leaders say and do are not mirror images. Heck, they aren't even the same species.

A doctor obviously thought the nurse having to go through the motions of "referring" the Muslim women to another caregiver was not the best way to go about things. I'm willing to bet said doctor found that the whole process was so time consuming and inefficient that other things of importance were being left undone or rushed. I'd also be surprised if the person this nurse was supposed to refer the patients to was as responsive as they should have been. This is another example of a system flaw causing problems and the admin. of the institution trying to throw a nurse under the bus to cover their own butts.

With that said, yes, I do hope the nurse wins. I hope he too will win the ultimate prize of realizing one should not devalue their own practice in the name of making the "system" work. I gotta say it...........its Nursing 101 that Muslim women don't want male caregivers. Cultural sensitivity is an aspect of nursing care delivery that can't be ignored in the name of efficiency.

If they judge overseeing this case were wise, they would make a ruling that punishes the institution for not managing things in a way that allows for culturally sensitive care to be delivered. If you accept the patients, you accept their expectations. If you can't manage their expectations without sacrificing proper healthcare delivery, then it is your right and duty to turn said patients away at the door and tell them so.
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Old 11-30-2011, 07:59 AM
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If you accept the patients, you accept their expectations. If you can't manage their expectations without sacrificing proper healthcare delivery, then it is your right and duty to turn said patients away at the door and tell them so.
Wise words my friend. My first thought was why in the hell did these women let themselves be treated by a male nurse if it's against their cultural beliefs? Seems they are responsible for his unfortunate situation. Catch 22, the supervisor says don't treat them, the doctor says treat them. This poor guy knew he didn't have any sexual ideations towards these women. These women should have spoke up and said "no I need a female nurse". I sure hope he wins his case.
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Old 11-30-2011, 05:38 PM
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This is a little off-topic, but there was an article in the paper a couple of days ago about a suit in NYC, brought by a group of orthodox Jewish women in Borough Park, Brooklyn. This is a VERY orthodox enclave, they operate almost as their own mini-city within the city, right down to a volunteer ambulance service comprised of all their own people--responding to their own people (it started in the 60's when it was feared that the Jewish people in that community weren't getting the same quick service that the non-Jewish part of town got, so....they took care of it themselves).

Anyway, the suit is because the women want to train to be EMTs just like the men, BECAUSE of the number of "female calls" for labor/delivery, and other gyn issues. They don't want men handling these rather delicate calls because, after all, they're normally never even allowed to SIT near them, why on earth should they be delivering a baby just because it's an emergency? (in other words, why can't women train to do in an emergency what the men do?)

But politics and religion and patriarchy being what it is, the men are fighting it! No, women should not participate in "men's activities" and ride in the ambulance with a man...even though they're going to respond to a woman giving birth. Stupid.

And so is this story of the Muslim women's sensibilities: was it the Muslim MEN who didn't want them treated by the nurse, or the female nursing supervisor? And the big bottom line: WHO had the final authority to direct the nurse? The MD in the ER, or the supervisor? Whoever had the authority should have had the say, period.

As for the firing, that was excessive and also stupid.
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Old 12-01-2011, 07:47 AM
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How in the world can we be expected to accomodate every religion and culture in the world. It is impossible!
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Old 12-21-2011, 02:29 AM
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How in the world can we be expected to accomodate every religion and culture in the world. It is impossible!
As far as I understand it, you are better off telling people you can't accommodate their specific needs and refer them to another institution that can than to accept the patient knowing you can't do what they need from you.

Accepting a Muslim woman and not being able to staff enough female nurses to avoid there being a problem is akin to............accepting a patient who needs their gallbladder removed while there is no surgeon.

Institutions won't do this though. They are afraid of lawsuits and..........the true motivation.........of losing potential earnings. They'd rather risk giving substandard care with the hopes of patients holding their tongue than admit they aren't staffed/equipped to meet their demands.
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