A former Blount Memorial Hospital nurse who was fired after her then-boyfriend made racist Facebook comments is suing the hospital for a restraining order and recovery of costs.
BMH fired Rachel Bowers on June 1 after messages written by Richard Haun were sent to someone via Facebook messenger on Bowers’ social media account.
A Sept. 15 complaint includes an affidavit from Haun, who admitted he used Bowers’ account to send the phrases “Kill urself now black boy” and “Pavement Mfr” to an unnamed individual.
“Ms. Bowers did not authorize me to use her Facebook account to post the messages setforth above and had no knowledge that I intended to make the above posts,” Haun wrote in the affidavit.
As The Daily Times reported on May 30 and June 1, Bowers alleges in the complaint she told supervisors she had not sent the messages after BMH was made aware of the incident.
At that time, the hospital posted on social media that it was aware of the messages and suspended an employee without pay.
A day later, BMH posted again, this time saying it “terminated a registered nurse who made offensive and inappropriate posts on social media.”
Bowers’ family shared a handwritten letter she gave to her supervisors regarding the incident, describing a timeline — also recounted in the complaint — in which Haun sent the messages using her account. Bowers was not with him at the time, texts obtained by The Daily Times show. She told Haun to stop sending messages and that she didn’t “need any threats.”
- The complaint stated after Haun sent the messages on Bowers’ account, people began harassing her over the racist comments.Hospital officials told Bowers they also received threats directed at her.
Public backlash against the messages Haun sent “humiliated” and “frightened” Bowers, the complaint alleges, and caused her to suffer “mental anguish.”
The complaint argues that, since Bowers proved to the hospital she didn’t send the messages, BMH should be prevented from making comments about her. That’s why it seeks a temporary restraining order against BMH.
It is also seeking “general relief to which (Bowers) may be entitled, including recovery of costs.”
BMH said in its June 1 post it would be “referring details of (Bowers’) termination to the Tennessee State Board of Nursing for its independent review.”
The complaint also alleges messages sent to The Daily Times by BMH representatives stated “... the comments made to the social media page by one of our former employees does not reflect our code of conduct of the values of our organization.”
However, in an email to The Daily Times, hospital spokeswoman Jennie Bounds wrote, “... the comments made to the social media page of one of our former employees does not reflect our code of conduct or the values we have for our organization.”
The quote in the complaint substitutes the word “of” with “by,” indicating Bowers actually sent the messages, not that they had been sent by someone else using her account.