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The Discrimination of Employees: Nurse’s Case


The enactment of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was meant to streamline the relationship between employees and employers by minimizing instances of discrimination in relation to race and other categorizations. Title VII prohibits among other things, the discrimination of employees on the basis of their gender or sexual orientation. Nevertheless, Section 703(e) of Title VII “allows for an exception termed as ‘bona-fide occupational qualification’, that is applied to businesses only if the sex-based employment practice is reasonably necessary to the normative operation of a certain enterprise” (Sirota, 2015, p. 1025).

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On any other grounds, normal operations within any working environment should be subject to gender equality. It is common for these two matters under Article VII to be confused and subsequently subjected to court cases.

This was the scenario when a former male nurse went to court concerning a matter related to sex discrimination. The case was lodged against the former nurse’s hospital after the institution refused to allow the employee to carry out intimate procedures on female patients unless there were any women personnel present. Through this case, the defendant sought to prove that he was discriminated against based on his gender. This report presents the male nurse’s case study in reference to Title VII protected class among other ethical issues related to the nursing profession.

The complaint was first tabled before the American Nurses Association (ANA), New England Chapter by twenty-eight year old Andrew Turk. Turk claimed that he was forced to abandon the nursing profession as a result of continued gender discrimination. Mr. Turk gave examples of situations when discrimination was demonstrated including an incidence in which he was denied the “chance to apply cervical smears or electrocardiogram tests that might have exposed a patient’s breasts unless he was chaperoned by a female colleague” (Campbell, 2014, p. 1299).

Furthermore, the complainant noted that no chaperones were required for female nurses. It is important to note that Turk did not object to requests from patients who wanted to be attended by female personnel. Before the matter escalated, the state employment tribunal had cited the exceptions made under Section 703(e) as justification for the chaperoning.

The main issue in this case was the manner in which male nurses carry out their duties. The commission that first oversaw the complaint made the argument that the manner in which the matter was handled pointed to the fact that most of the men who work as nurses are mostly treated as potential sex predators. Furthermore, the fact that men constitute only about 10% of the nursing staff makes the male gender a minority.

Laws and Ethics

The institution of Article VII was meant to serve various purposes including ensuring that employees of all sexes are provided equal treatment. In addition, this legislation was meant to ensure that ‘work-place traditions’ were not used to perpetuate discriminative tendencies (Keogh, 2012). In the case of Turk, it was clear that he was a victim of what may be termed as reverse sex discrimination. The ANA was of the opinion that just because the discrimination was directed at a man, this did not make it right.

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According to accepted ethics that apply to all medical professionals including nurses and doctors, patients are at liberty to be treated by either male or female caretakers. Furthermore, the code of ethics does not promote or accommodate a chaperoning policy. In the end, Turk was subjected to a negative stereotype that men could not effectively function as nurses when they are compared to women. The chaperoning practice does not align with any state laws or guidelines in reference to the nursing profession.

Overall, the treatment of Mr. Turk violated Title VII legislative aspect of providing equal access to employment between men and women. For instance, the complainant claims he quit the nursing profession to be an insurance salesperson because he was continually subjected to discrimination as a male nurse. Consequently, the discrimination also meant that Turk was denied the opportunity to earn maximum wages as a nurse.

For example, it is likely that Turk could not be assigned lone working shifts when female chaperones were not present. As a licensed/registered nurse, Turk was prequalified to practice the profession within the state of New England among other places across the country. Consequently, his qualifications meant that the employer had no basis to treat Turk differently than any other employee. The treatment of the employee also fails to take into account Title VII Section 706(g), which subjects Turk to scrutiny against misconduct. However, the employer cannot prove that Turk was involved in any type of misconduct prior to his chaperoning requirements by the hospital.

Evidence-Based Precautions for the Organization

The hiring process of the organization should make it clear that employees from all genders will work under similar conditions. In instances when there are Section 703(e) justifications that apply to certain aspects of the profession, they should be clearly outlined within the organization’s policies (Cleland, 2011). The outlines can be in form of job classification that does not bear aspects of discriminatory policies and guidelines. The organization should also ensure that the pay and working conditions of all employees is standardized regardless of gender. Each of these two aspects should not contradict the other. In case the organization is apprehensive about hiring a man to treat female patients, a professional code of ethics should be used to streamline the underlying issues.

Outlined Policy Changes

Following Mr. Turk’s situation, the organization’s chaperoning policy should be abolished. Nevertheless, a patient is at liberty to choose a preferred professional within reason. Overall, nurses of all genders are expected to adhere to the outlined hospital, state, and federal laws and code of ethics when they are discharging their duties (MacWilliams, Schmidt, & Bleich, 2013). It is important to note that these specifications apply to all staff members regardless of their gender.

Proposed Human Resource Changes

In accordance with the specifics of this case study, the human resource department should make sure that employees of any gender are not subjected to any treatment that makes them feel inferior (Anthony, 2011). The department should also hold periodic seminars and/or symposiums to ensure that discrimination issues are addressed in open forums. It is also important for the human resource department to ensure that the unique skills, efforts, and responsibilities of all employees are acknowledged.


Turk’s case study is an example of important aspects of the Title VII protected class legislation. The human resource policies in Turk’s hospital subjected him to treatment that theorized that ‘all men are perverts’. In addition, the complainant’s actions were not illegal or unethical in any manner. It is important to note that male doctors are rarely subjected to the discrimination that Turk went through. Consequently, the proceedings of the case are a solid example of the spirit of Title VII.

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Anthony, A. S. (2011). Gender bias and discrimination in nursing education: can we change it?. Nurse Educator, 29(3), 121-125.

Campbell, T. J. (2014). Regression analysis in Title VII Cases: Minimum standards, comparable worth, and other issues where law and statistics meet. Stanford Law Review, 39(2), 1299-1324.

Cleland, V. (2011). Sex discrimination: Nursing’s most pervasive problem. The American Journal of Nursing, 1542-1547.

Keogh, B. (2012). Male nurses’ experiences of gender barriers: Irish and American perspectives. Nurse Educator, 32(6), 256-259.

MacWilliams, B. R., Schmidt, B., & Bleich, M. R. (2013). Men in nursing. AJN The American Journal of Nursing, 113(1), 38-44.

Sirota, M. L. (2015). Sex discrimination: Title VII and the bona fide occupational qualification. Texas Law Review, 55(1), 1025.

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