Nurse fired over treating Muslim women


    The comments on the article got into a bunch of racial slandering. Curious to see what others in the profession think of this?

    A male registered nurse and Vietnam war 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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  3. by   PetsToPeople
    Ok, I don't see a problem here. He was told not to treat the muslim women, not as discrimination against him as a man, but out of respect of the muslim religion that states that women are not to touched by a man other than their husbands. He decided it was his right to treat these women against their religious beliefs, he wasn't fired because he was a man but because he went against his supervisors orders.
  4. by   SummitRN
    I see a huge problem here.

    If the patient did not request a female nurse, he did no wrong. If they allowed him to treat them, he did not wrong.

    It is discrimination for it to be policy that males flat out may not see female patients of a certain religion (or who dress a certain way). That is discriminatory against both RNs as men and the patients because it prejudices based on dress and assumed belief rather than treating them individually.

    This firing was religiously motivated discrimination against the male nurse by his supervisor. I hope he sues the pants off the place.

    Any patient can REQUEST same sex providers and refuse care if none is available. Patients can request If it is feasible and doesn't disrupt the care of others, such needs can be met. If a Muslim woman asks for a female nurse, doctor, or whatever, and none is available, they can wait or come back later.

    We are nation of individuals with equal rights. We should stick to that ideal. Or we can take "cultural respect" from tolerance to enforced reverence. How about if a female nurse had been fired for treating a Muslim man without first covering her hair and face?
    Last edit by SummitRN on Nov 27, '11
  5. by   Not_A_Hat_Person
    If the story is accurate, the supervisor was dead wrong. It's one thing to say "if a female in hijab refuses you because you're a man, send her to me." It's quite another to say "don't treat any females in hijab."

    My area has a sizeable Muslim population. Hijab-wearing Muslim women generally prefer female doctors. If a female isn't available, some women will accept a male doctor, some will accept a male doctor if another female (or a male relative) is in the room, and some will wait for a female. But it has to be the patients choice, not the provider's.
  6. by   PMFB-RN
    " 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."

    Uh, who cares what the male clientele wanted? Why would their views on this matter is any way? I don't understand why this was even mentioned. The patients in question are female. What they want is all that matters. Unless the patient requests a same sex provider then there is no problem what-so-ever with a male nurse seeing female patients.
    I have had several female patients ask to have a female nurse rather than me. It's fine, I understand. I am there to care for the patients and if my gender makes a patient uncomfortable then I am happy to find a female nurse if possible.
  7. by   realnursealso/LPN
    Sorry this is the USA, this is our culture. "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. " This quote tells it all, discrimination! The man is a great nurse, a veteran, I hope he sues the pants off them! What in the world would it matter what the male muslim clientele had to say? Nuts I say, nuts!
    How about the supervisor gets fired? Oh and make the supervisor take a sexual discrimination class.
  8. by   SummitRN
    Quote from PMFB-RN
    Uh, who cares what the male clientele wanted? Why would their views on this matter is any way? I don't understand why this was even mentioned. The patients in question are female. What they want is all that matters.
    This type of Islam doesn't care what the patient thinks because they are female. Only the male's opinion matters. The female patient is their chattel, not a full person with rights. Apparently, the fired male nurse didn't respect that oppression to the liking of his patient's "owners"
  9. by   rn/writer
    It sounds like the Muslim supervisor was taking it upon herself to choose on behalf of the patients without any input from them. This is not her place. She certainly should be ready to provide an alternative if a woman says she doesn't wish to have a male nurse. But the Muslim supervisor should not be making assumptions or stating her preference for them. No one should usurp the patient's decision making opportunity. If the female patient is capable of rational thought and expression, she should be allowed to choose for herself.

    I'm guessing this might be a preemptive move on the part of the Muslim supervisor, but it could also be someone trying to keep fellow believers in line and not allowing them to make a "wrong" choice.

    Looks like the male RN has a case.
    Last edit by rn/writer on Nov 28, '11
  10. by   ProgressiveActivist
    Sounds like a poorly managed office, wrongful termination, and petty behavior on the part of a control freak nursing supervisor who did not like being challenged by a physician and a nurse who followed the physician's request.

    If the female muslim clients can not have physical contact with any male other than their husband, why the heck would they go to the health department? If this is such a major issue, wouldn't there be a policy in place to protect the staff from allegations of innappropriate contact?
  11. by   NurseCubanitaRN2b
    This isn't the land of Islam, this is the United States of America and we do things differently here. The supervisor was DEAD WRONG on her poor actions. If anybody needs to suffer some consequences it's her.

    If the female patient requests a female nurse, then that's her preference and right. But obviously she allowed the male nurse to exam her so that was HER CHOICE. The supervisor needs to separate work from her religion. Not everyone shares her beliefs. It's not about what the religious supervisor wants, or what the patients husband wants, IT'S ABOUT THE PATIENT. We as nurses are here for the patients and to care to their needs, the needs of others doesn't matter if it compromises that of the patients.
  12. by   PetsToPeople
    I stand by what I said earlier. We don't know the whole picture and I am not an expert on the muslim religion, so there are many "if's" here. What if these women and/or their husbands come to this office regularly and have already discussed with this supervisor that they want only to see a female but will see a male only in the case of an emergency or if there is absolutely no other option.
    Also, what if this female was very reserved and shy and this male just took it upon himself to head on into the exam room and do his care and was in and out and the patient felt railroaded and didn't say anything. Maybe that complained in private to the supervisor and didn't want it made public because of the problems it would cause her.

    "This isn't the land of Islam, this is the United States of America and we do things differently here."
    I can't even begin to explain how ignorant this sounds...and from your name I am assuming you are cuban or have cuban ancestry? Ever had issues with discrimination yourself? I would imagine you would be able to relate...
    No, this isn't the land of islam, this is the LAND OF THE FREE, we are a melting pot of cultures and religions. This country was founded by people escaping religious prosecution if you can remember back to your middle school history class.

    Whenever I hear someone say "we do things differently here" it usually means we don't respect your religion or culture and we think that our way is the best way and the only way. Funny, I can think of a particular German who thought the very same way. This supervisor was trying to prevent an issue from happening. I think the male nurse would have plenty of other patients to care about and shouldn't have made such a big deal out of small potatoes. Also, instead of taking it upon himself and going against his supervisors orders to do what he wanted, he should have addressed the issue with the supervisor in a private meeting and gone over her head if necessary. Sounds to me like he had no real problem with the instructions he was given until some doc was like, hey, why don't you do what you want, and he was like, yea, I think I will do what I think is best.

    If I was that supervisor I would be contacting the muslim committee in her area for support, who knows she may not have asked this patient the nurse cared for to come forward for her defense because it could get that patient in a lot of trouble with her husband.

    Oh, and by the way, the muslim women aren't always treated like chattel, every area is different with their rules, even within the same faith. Believe it or not some women are happy with their positions and it is not up to us to tell them that they are wrong and our way is better. And the women wear the coverings because their beauty and their body is considerd sacred and respected and is for their husbands alone, just as a married christian womans body is only for her husband. And in the jewish faith once a woman is married she must cover her hair, but you rarely notice because a lot of them wear expensive wigs as a way to cover their hair instead of a scarf.

    Get over yourselves and be as open to others as you would want them to be to you. You are lucky because you can sit back and make your remarks and get pats on the back by all the others around you who think just like you. If you ever have the opportunity to get outside of your safe zone and your the one under the microscope you will see how it feels to be discrimated against.
  13. by   NurseCubanitaRN2b
    I will also stand by my post. Yes, this is the United States of America and we do things different here. That doesn't mean that culture and religion is disrespected. As a matter of fact I respect all religions. Just because I don't agree with the supervisors poor action doesn't mean that I don't respect culture or religion. As I stated before if the female patient wearing a hijab had requested a female nurse then I can see the issue. Her rights should be respected. But the supervisor had no right to "assume" and take it upon herself to discriminate against him because he's a male nurse. She was way out of line and put HER religion over work. We are told to keep our religious preferences to ourselves and not inflect it on others the way this supervisor did to this male nurse who has been a nurse for over 30 years. You're just like the supervisor making assumptions about others with out thinking. I've worked in labor and delivery and I will tell you that we've had our share of Muslim female clients come in. There was this one who came in straight from the ER. Well since she wasn't registered with our hospital we had to call the on call doctor who happen to be male. The male doctor came in and the female patient had no choice but to be seen by the male doctor. The husband was very accomodating and all he asked was that she be well taken care of and their baby. I think they saw that this was an emergency situation and that the life of the baby and mother was more precious and they put their religious beliefs aside. They were very caring during their stay. So there are ecceptions out there, as I've seen it. You ask others to be more open to others. Guess what, it's a two way street and that supervisor needs to do the same and put her religious differences aside, not discriminate because of a nurses gender, and think about patients rights first. What's wrong with asking the patient what she wants? It's her right to decide who can and can't give her care. That's what I stated in the beginning. I
  14. by   tyvin
    A "right to sue" from the EEOC... case closed. IMO; the male nurses will definitely prevail.

    Every one's going to get involved with this one.