A Michigan hospital on Tuesday admitted that it had considered honoring a man's request that no African-American nurses care for his baby, but it insisted that the idea was eventually rejected.
Tonya Battle, who has worked as a nurse at Hurley Medical Center for 25 years, told the Detroit Free Press that she is suing the hospital because she says she was reassigned after a man instructed staff to allow no African-Americans around his newborn.
The charge nurse reportedly told Battle that the man had rolled up his sleeve to reveal a swastika tattoo.
WJRT obtained a copy of a sign that was allegedly posted above the the assignment clipboard.
"Please, No African American Nurses to care for [redacted] Baby per Dad's request," the note read.
Battle's lawsuit claimed that a hospital attorney eventually told staff that the sign had to be taken down.
A source told WJRT that the sign was left above the assignment clipboard for about four hours.
"We have no comments on that," Hurley CEO Melany Gavulic told reporters when asked about the note.
WJRT also asked Gavulic if Battle had been reassigned due to the father's request.
"That is not in our statement today," the hospital CEO replied.
In the statement posted to the Hurley Medical Center website on Tuesday, Gavulic said that she couldn't talk about the lawsuit, but she confirmed that a father had "demanded that no African American nurse be involved in his baby’s care."
"Upon making his demand, he then showed the nurse’s supervisor his swastika tattoo, which created anger and outrage in our staff," she explained. "This resulted in concern by supervisors for the safety of the staff.
"For these reasons, the request was initially evaluated; however, the father was informed that his request could not be granted."
Activists with Al Sharpton's National Action Network held a rally at Hurley Medical Center on Tuesday to demand answers.
“What does that do to someone’s psyche? What does that do to someone’s mind? What does that to do someone’s soul when they see a sign like that?” National Action Network Michigan Chapter President Charles Williams III asked. "What does that to do someone’s soul when they see a sign like that?"
"Silence is consent," he added. "People will know across the world that if Hurley hospital can't handle this correctly then Hurley hospital don't need to handle my baby or your baby either."
Watch this video from WJRT, broadcast Feb. 19, 2013.