Michigan Medical Center Commits to Race Non-Discrimination in Staff Assignments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                  

Contact: HHS Office for Civil Rights, 1-800-368-1019

August 8, 2014

Michigan Medical Center Commits to Race Non-Discrimination in Staff Assignments

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has entered into a Voluntary Resolution Agreement with Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan to resolve issues raised in OCR’s review of the Medical Center’s compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Title VI prohibits discrimination in the administration of any federally-funded program based on race, color, or national origin.   

Hurley Medical Center is a public safety net hospital and medical center which provides roughly two-thirds of all uncompensated medical care in the Flint, Michigan area.  OCR initiated a review to determine Hurley’s compliance with Title VI in its assignment of hospital staff to care for patients.  OCR’s Title VI review was prompted by the re-assignment of an African-American nurse who was providing care to a Caucasian infant in Hurley’s Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit, based on the father’s request that no African-Americans provide care to his child.

During the investigation, OCR found that changes were needed in Hurley’s policies and procedures to bring them into full compliance with Title VI.  Hurley cooperated throughout OCR’s review and made the necessary revisions in its policies and procedures.  To implement fully the prohibition against consideration of race in staff assignments, Hurley signed a Resolution Agreement which calls for the appointment of a Title VI Coordinator who will be charged with overseeing Hurley’s overall compliance with Title VI and will have special responsibilities for the investigation and adjudication of any Title VI complaints filed internally with Hurley.  In addition, Hurley will train its 400-plus member workforce on relevant aspects of Title VI.  The Agreement remains in effect for two years and requires Hurley to submit reports to OCR regarding compliance.  Hurley’s obligations under the OCR Resolution Agreement supplement its obligations in a Conciliation Agreement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars discriminatory employment practices.  

The OCR investigation and Resolution Agreement emphasize the need for health care providers of all types to ensure their compliance with Title VI and, in particular, to refrain from making any staff assignments based on racial considerations.  These obligations are consistent with OCR’s longstanding “Guidelines for Compliance of Hospitals with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” which make clear that assignment of hospital staff based on the racial preference of the patient violates Title VI. 

The Resolution Agreement, to which the OCR Guidelines are attached as an exhibit, may be found at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/activities/agreements/hurley.html.

To learn more about non-discrimination and health information privacy laws, your civil rights and privacy rights in health care and human service settings, and to find information on filing a complaint, visit us at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr.

Content created by Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
Content last reviewed on August 7, 2014