By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — A former employee of Beaumont Hospital-Dearborn filed an ethnic discrimination lawsuit against the hospital claiming he was forced to resign from his position as a clinical manager of nursing.
Employee Ali Saleh’s supervisor Karen DeLaurier and assistant clinical manager Shannon Meredith were also named in the lawsuit filed in Wayne County Circuit Court on July 9. He is seeking $25,000 in damages.
According to the lawsuit, on March 14 Saleh filed a claim of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after his efforts to address his claim with the hospital’s Human Resources Department failed to resolve the complaint.
Six days later, Saleh received a written report that one of the nurses under his supervision charted that she administered an oral narcotic pain medication to a patient who was unable to swallow and also improperly withheld intravenous cardiac medication.
With the suspicion that the nurse improperly and illegally diverted the medication for personal use, Saleh instigated an investigation with the hospital pharmacy manager, Sonia Hassan.
Hassan noted that the patient had not received the oral narcotic in the prior 10 days and said that it was “so strange” that the patient would even request the medication.
When Meredith attempted to intervene on behalf of the nurse, her personal friend, to stop the investigation Saleh refused to rescind his request for an investigation, the lawsuit stated.
Around the same time Saleh was informed that another nurse under his supervision was leaving hospital grounds while she was on the clock, so he asked for security footage to determine if the information was correct.
Meredith again attempted to intervene with Saleh then to DeLaurier because the second nurse was also a personal friend to her, the lawsuit stated. When it became apparent to Saleh that the investigations may not move forward, he conducted his own research to determine where he could make a formal report to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
According to the lawsuit, just before Saleh was going to report the suspected illegal activity to the Michigan Board of Nursing and Bureau of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, he was called into a meeting with DeLaurier and a human resources representative.
Saleh alleges he was forced to resign ending his employment on April 10 after it began on Nov. 12, 2018. The lawsuit says DeLaurier placed Meredith, a white female into Saleh’s clinical manger position.
Eight counts were listed in the lawsuit against all three defendants.
The counts were, violation of the Michigan Whistleblower Protection Act against the hospital and DeLaurier; violation of the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act against the hospital and DeLaurier; violation of an ELCRA violation against the hospital and DeLaurier; tortious interference with business expectancy against Meredith and DeLaurier; civil conspiracy against Meredith and DeLaurier; concert of action against Meredith and DeLaurier; discharge in violation of public policy against the hospital; and intentional infliction of emotional distress against the hospital, Meredith and DeLaurier.
“Defendants DeLaurier and Meredith illegally, maliciously and wrongfully conspired with one another with the internet to and for the illegal purpose of discriminating against Saleh on account of his national origin, ethnicity, preventing him from bringing violations of the law to the attention of internal and external investigators, retaliating against him for exercising his statutory rights under ELCRA and tortiously interfering with his contractual relations,” the lawsuit read.
Saleh also said he heard DeLaurier make derogatory and discriminatory comments about Arab American employees, patients and visitors. The lawsuit also says, “had Saleh not been an Arab-American, he would not have been constructively terminated.”
Beaumont Health Media Relations Director Mark Geary said in an email, “We do not comment on pending litigation; however, we intend to vigorously defend this case.”
The Arab American News originally reported on the lawsuit and spoke with attorney James Allen who said Beaumont has a “long and sad history” of violating the rights of employees.
“Nowhere is this more apparent than in their treatment of their Arab American employees” Allen said. “How sad is it that (Beaumont) mistreats workers from the demographic group that it predominantly serves?
“Those who say that this discrimination does not impact patient outcomes obviously have not looked at the numbers. This sort of treatment will unfortunately continue until more people, like Mr. Saleh, stand up and demand that long-overdue reforms take the place of fake diversity initiatives that only seek to mask the hospital’s bad acts.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])