Male Nurse Fired for Treating Female Muslim Patients

In one of the more intriguing cases to emerge recently, male nurse John Benitez Jr. filed suit against the city of Dearborn, Michigan, for sex discrimination last week, charging that he had been terminated for tending to Muslim women at a government-run medical facility after receiving contradictory instructions about the need to adhere to gender separation:

Benitez, 63, of Madison Heights, worked at the city’s taxpayer-funded health clinic. He alleges he was ordered by a female supervisor not to treat conservative Muslim women, specifically those wearing head scarves, according to the lawsuit. He was told the clinic’s male Muslim clientele did not want a male treating female patients.

He complied until November 2010, when a doctor ordered him to treat Muslim women as he would any other patient. Benitez followed the doctor’s order and was fired less than one month later, according to the lawsuit.

An Associated Press item clarifies that his former female supervisor is Muslim and “told Benitez to refer patients wearing hijab to her, rather than treating them himself.” The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission gave the suit a green light in October.

Alarming on their own, the allegations also reinforce a pair of trends tracked by Islamist Watch:

  • Islamism in Dearborn. Nobody should be surprised to hear such a tale coming out of this Detroit suburb, which has a large Muslim population and public entities known for bending over backwards to accommodate it. Examples include the University of Michigan-Dearborn installing foot-washing stations to aid Muslims preparing to pray, Fordson High School holding football practice from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. in 2010 to ease the Ramadan fast for Muslim athletes, and officials’ repeated attempts to inhibit Christians from engaging in speech that might discomfort Muslims. Without a doubt, Dearborn is at the very center of the battle against Islamist encroachments in the U.S.
  • Strife over gender mixing in medical settings. Hospitals and other health-related venues commonly spawn gender controversies, as rapidly moving events and limited resources can make male-female contact unavoidable. Two months ago, a Muslim woman demanded to see a female doctor in a Pennsylvania emergency room, but a male nurse declined the request and reportedly said that God would forgive her for being examined by a man; she left in a huff. Last year, relatives “attacked and kicked” a doctor trying to treat a woman at a Swedish hospital “because they objected to him being a male.” An altercation involving medics even erupted at an Australian accident scene in 2009.

A court will need to weigh the veracity of specific claims made by Benitez against Dearborn, but his attorney’s remarks are relevant well beyond the parameters of this one suit: “When you get to the point that taxpayer-funded entities are having to comply with personal religious beliefs rather than letting people do their job, you’re going down a road that does not end in a good place.”

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  • ndlaw

    It is unclear to me what position the writer of this article is taking. To the extent he is suggesting that the hospital should not have given consideration to the religious beliefs of the Muslim patient, I strongly disagree. That view is very short sighted, and indeed contradicts the battle currently being waged by the USCCB on the attack by our secular society on religious freedoms. The efforts of the USCCB to ensure that the conscience clause in the workplace remains intact under Obamacare for employees would actually support an argument that the religious beliefs of a patient at a hospital should also be recognized and supported. I would rephrase the statement in quotes at the end of the article to read “When you get to the point that taxpayer-funded entities comply with the personal religious beliefs of people employed or coming in contact with those entities, so long as it does no detriment to their (or others) health and safety, then you are going down a road that ends in a good place. A road that is protected by the First Amendment to the United States constitution.”