A nurse in Oklahoma is suing the hospital where he worked after getting fired over a Facebook post in which he called for the lynching of a Black man suspected of murder.
Kevin Murnan was a registered nurse at Norman Regional Hospital for 19 years before his termination.
“Get a big tall tree and a short piece of rope!” Murnan wrote online, referencing a Black man accused of killing a child, The Oklahoman reported. He was terminated from the hospital late last August and is suing his former employer for $1.2 million.
Attorneys for the hospital asked a judge to dismiss the case, saying Murnan should accept the result of his actions after he “chose to pen his hateful thoughts and send them out into the general public believing that there could be no consequence for doing so.”
They also asked the judge to consider the climate last year following the national protests over the murder of George Floyd. “Set against the backdrop of the death of George Floyd and the nation’s racial tensions boiling over the summer of 2020, it is clear why the plaintiff’s employment could not continue after that post drew scathing criticism from a member of the community who brought it to the attention of the Defendant,” the hospital’s attorneys wrote.
Murnan’s attorneys says that he claims not to be a racist. “You know, some of my best friends are Black,” Murnan said, according to what his attorneys told the outlet.
The lawsuit claims the hospital violated Murnan’s free speech rights. “You just don’t go around and fire people for things on Facebook,” the nurse’s attorney said. “He didn’t call him an ‘n.’”
The hospital’s attorneys disagree. “Murnan’s post was short and to the point, restoring to a tried and true symbol of racism in America –– the lynching of African Americans.”
The next hearing in the matter is scheduled for May 6.
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