Can my employer discriminate against me on the direction of a customer or client?

No. In a recent case out of Florida, a African-American nurse sued her employer when she was prevented from caring for a light-skinned patient on the direction of the patient and her family. Read the Order here.   In this case, an elderly woman was in the hospital after having been mugged by a dark-skinned man. Her family directed the hospital not to have any dark-skinned nurses attend to her, as the patient would allegedly have been upset by the presence of dark-skinned persons after having suffered the attack. The nurse entered the room to assess the patient, and was subsequently told to leave.  She complained to HR, but was informed that the rule was lawful and offered paid vacation for her trouble.

The court held that this type of “race matching” is unlawful, even if it occurs at the request of the client or customer and not because of any discriminatory intent on the part of the employer itself.  Calling an “unwritten, race-matching, client-triggered policy” “invidious,” the court ruled in favor of the employee.


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