"He was told the clinic's male Muslim clientele did not want a male treating female patients."
For a taxpayer-funded entity to comply with such a demand opens more than one nasty can of worms. First, there is the disturbing prospect of a state institution taking it upon itself to enforce and observe an Islamic separation of men and women. The practice also left the facility open to tremendous liability over the prospect of delayed or denied care on the basis of gender, recalling conditions under the Taliban's rule in Afghanistan.
If your medical care reminds someone of Afghanistan under the Taliban, it's probably safe to assume you're doing something wrong. "Male nurse sues after firing for treating Muslim women," by Robert Snell for Detroit News, November 23:
Detroit— A male nurse filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against the city of Dearborn on Wednesday, claiming he was fired for treating conservative Muslim women wearing head scarves.
John Benitez Jr. is suing for unspecified damages and to reclaim his job, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.
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.
"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," the nurse's lawyer Deborah Gordon said in an interview Wednesday. "If people don't want to be treated, they can go find their own practitioner."
The city closed the clinic June 30 amid budget cuts.
A Dearborn spokeswoman declined comment.
Hospitals and health clinics routinely make accommodations based on religion, said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations.
In this case, the practices were enforced on women by outsiders (Muslim clinic clients and clinic supervisors), and done on the taxpayer dime.
"In general, unless it is for emergency situations, many Muslims would prefer being screened and touched by someone of the same gender," Walid said. "If he was fired based upon an order from a supervisor, that obviously would be unjust."