United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
K. Majzoub Magistrate Judge.
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF NO. 30]
Victoria A. Roberts United States District Judge.
Williams-formerly a nurse at Beaumont's Dearborn
hospital-reported to her supervisor, Crystal Kopriva, that
she overheard her patient tell someone on the phone, “I
do not want that black bitch taking care of me.”
Another nurse overheard the remark. Kopriva spoke to the
patient. Williams says she overheard the patient make a
similar remark to Kopriva. Within moments, Kopriva reassigned
Williams and replaced her with a white nurse.
says that, through this reassignment, Beaumont Health System
(“Beaumont”) engaged in race discrimination in
violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981, Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, and Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil
seeks summary judgment; it says Williams fails to present
sufficient evidence of both intentional discrimination and
damages. Oral argument was heard on August 14, 2019.
record, a reasonable jury could conclude that the
“black bitch” comments, of which Kopriva was
aware, constitute direct evidence of discrimination; a jury
could find Kopriva's knowledge of the statements was
contemporaneous with Williams' reassignment or causally
related to the adverse action decision making process.
Court DENIES summary judgment.
was employed by Beaumont as a registered nurse. On November
1, 2017, Williams began her shift at 11:30 pm; she was
responsible for caring for six patients during her shift,
including the “Patient.” At approximately 4:48
am, Williams responded to the Patient's request for
assistance. According to Williams, the Patient needed help
going to the bathroom. Williams says the Patient lost her
footing as she rose from her bed. Williams says that she
“gently but quickly grabbed the Patient to prevent her
from falling”; the Patient allegedly then told Williams
not to touch her and requested a new nurse. The Patient also
allegedly told Williams to get her supervisor, Crystal
says she left the Patient's room but overheard a phone
call that the Patient began while she was still in the room.
Williams says that, as she stood outside the Patient's
room, she heard the Patient tell someone that she did not
want that “black bitch” taking care of her.
Williams says her co-worker, Shakina Kalonda, also heard the
Patient's “black bitch” comment. After
overhearing the Patient's statement, Williams went to
find Kopriva; Williams told Kopriva about the “black
bitch” comment. Kopriva admits as much.
says that Kopriva then spoke to the Patient; Williams says
that-standing outside the Patient's room-she heard the
Patient tell Kopriva that she did not want a black nurse.
Williams says Shakina Kalonda heard this statement as well.
Once Kopriva finished with the Patient, she and Williams had
a conversation; Williams says that Kopriva told her that the
Patient “didn't say anything bad about
[her].” Nonetheless, Kopriva decided to remove Williams
from caring for the Patient, assigning Olivia Moylan, a white
woman, to the Patient instead. Moylan and Kopriva were then
responsible for administering any medication that the Patient
needed. Williams says Kopriva chose Moylan over another black
nurse working on the floor that evening.
says her shift ended at 8:00 am on the morning of November 2;
but she did not get off work until 8:30 am. Williams ran into
Kelley Fildew, a Human Resources Representative, when leaving
work; Williams told Fildew what happened with the Patient.
Fildew told Williams to email her the relevant information.
Williams emailed Fildew on November 3, stating, in relevant
part, that the Patient said she didn't want a
“black bitch” taking care of her, and that the
Patient never gave Kopriva a reason “why she
no-longer[sic] wanted me as her nurse.”
receiving Williams' email, Fildew contacted the Clinical
Manager responsible for the Patient's unit, Toni Ward,
and asked her to investigate the incident. Beaumont says that
Ward talked to Kopriva twice and talked to Olivia Moylan.
Beaumont also says that Ward met with the Patient, who told
Ward that “she felt [Williams] had been a little rough
with her when she was trying to get out of bed to go to the
bathroom”; Beaumont says that “the Patient said
nothing to Ward about having an issue with Plaintiff's
race.” However, Williams contends that the Patient was
never asked whether she made a request based on race, or
whether she referred to Williams as a “black
bitch.” [ECF No. 31, PageID.566].
and Fildew had already scheduled a meeting for reasons
unrelated to the alleged race discrimination; Fildew informed
Williams that they would discuss the alleged discrimination
at that previously scheduled meeting.
met with Human Resources on November 8, 2017. Williams says
that she was told “patients have the right to refuse
care for whatever reason”; she says she was also told
that “a patient requesting care based on race is no
different from a Middle Eastern female patient requesting not
to have a male as her nurse.” To that point, Williams
alleges that “Fildew admitted nobody said patient
requests based on race are not honored by Defendant.”
It is undisputed that Beaumont does not have a policy on what
to do when a patient requests care based on the race of the
caregiver. [ECF No. 31-6, PageID.606].
Fildew's meeting notes-dated November 8, 2017-explicitly
state that “Teoka stated that the patient in 881-bed #2
stated she didn't want her to be her nurse because she
was black . . . Teoka stated as she left the room the patient
stated she ‘didn't want a Black Bitch to be my
RN.'” [ECF No. 31-11, PageID.631].
Williams created a series of “progress notes”
documenting her relevant interactions with the Patient.
Williams' first relevant progress note was entered at
4:48 am on November 2; she noted, in pertinent part, that she
attempted to help the Patient get to the bathroom and that
the Patient yelled “I want a different nurse.”
Williams also noted that she “requested charge nurse to
speak with the pt. Per charge nurse, pt did not give a reason
why she no longer wanted assigned nurse to continue caring
made another entry at 5:02 am. Here she said that she was
“now removed from caring for patient by assistant
manager. Advised not to enter room anymore.”
at 5:35 am, Williams entered a note-apparently documenting an
incident that occurred at 5:10 am-stating that “Pt can
be heard from the hallway, ‘I do not want that black
bitch taking care of me.'”
says that Williams' progress notes-when examined
alongside her oral timeline of events-demonstrate an
inconsistency that is insurmountable; it says she cannot
provide reliable, consistent evidence that Beaumont had
discriminatory intent when it reassigned her. Responding,
Williams says that although the times of the progress notes
are a “little off, ” they are an accurate
representation of what happened that night; she ...