Following racial caregiving preferences of white resident violates Civil Rights Act, court rules

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An Indiana nursing facility's decision to honor the request of a white resident who refused to be treated by a black certified nursing assistant violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a U.S. Circuit Court recently ruled.

Plaintiff Brenda Chaney sued former employer Plainfield Healthcare Center after being discharged after three months of employment. Chaney, who is black, claimed that the facility's daily reminders on her assignment sheet created a hostile work involvement, and that her firing was racially based, the Bureau of National Affairs reported. The assignment sheet instructed her not to provide care to a resident who “Prefers No Black CNAs." Also, the constant reminders of the racial preference of the patient led to harassing comments from co-workers, she said.

Initially, a trial court had sided with Plainfield, judging that the facility had made an acceptable effort to end the harassing co-worker comments, and to recognize the patient's wishes under Indiana state law. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on July 20 unanimously overturned that decision.