Watch CBS News

Four Tops singer sues Michigan hospital for racial discrimination, says they didn't believe his identity

Four Tops singer sues Michigan hospital, saying workers didn't believe he was in the group
Four Tops singer sues Michigan hospital, saying workers didn't believe he was in the group 00:38

(CBS DETROIT) — The lead singer of Motown's legendary Four Tops has sued a Michigan hospital for racial discrimination, claiming that he was treated like he was mentally ill and restrained after he had told staff that he was in the group. 

Alexander Morris, 53, went to the Ascension Macomb-Oakland Hospital in Warren on April 7, 2023, to receive medical treatment, according to the lawsuit. 

The singer was taken to the emergency room by ambulance after he had difficulty breathing and chest and was put on oxygen. Morris has a history of cardiac disease, including stents and a defibrillator. 

He told a nurse and security guard that he was a member of the Four Tops and was concerned about stalkers and fans, the suit says. However, the workers didn't believe him, and a doctor ordered a psychological evaluation and, put him into a restraining jacket and removed his oxygen and his belongings.

When Morris offered to show his identification to prove he was the singer, the security guard told him to "sit his Black a** down," according to the suit. 

The singer told hospital staff that he was having trouble breathing and asked for his oxygen back, but they allegedly ignored him. After that, he asked for the restraint jacket to be taken off and for his belongings so he could get treatment at another hospital, but he was told he couldn't leave. Several security guards surrounded the area to make sure he couldn't go, and during this time, he still hadn't received treatment for his heart condition. 

The hospital and the nurse "blatantly refused to provide Plaintiff with medical treatment due to his race and/or perceived mental disability," the suit says. "Instead, Plaintiff received a deliberate misdiagnosis and received a lower standard of medical care based on his race that amounted to racial discrimination and delayed his actual diagnosis."

The singer's wife later arrived at the hospital, and Morris told her that the workers thought he was delusional. She told a security guard that he was indeed a member of the Motown group, but the lawsuit says he did nothing.

After that, a nurse arrived, and Morris asked if he could show her a video of him performing at the Grammy Awards. 

"The nurse realized Plaintiff was a member of the Four Tops, and the nurse went and got the emergency room doctor to inform him," the lawsuit said. "The emergency room doctor returned and said he was canceling the psychological evaluation."

By then, the lawsuit alleges Morris was restrained for about 90 minutes. He was offered a $25 Meijer "as an apology for the dehumanization and discrimination he faced at the hands of the hospital," and Morris refused to accept it. 

After the incident at the hospital, a security guard who worked at the hospital told him that the guard who was in contact with Morris and had restrained him had made racist comments to his coworkers and had "frequently" used excessive force with hospital patients. 

This security guard also witnessed the other hospital employees tampering with evidence concerning an internal incident report that was filed and said he believed the account of a racial slur being used was removed from the report.

The lawsuit alleges the employees were told not to talk about the incident and that the security guard involved was not suspended or disciplined. The suit names the hospital, the nurse and the security guard. It seeks more than $75,000 in damages and a jury trial. 

"The health, safety and well-being of our patients, associates and community members remains our top priority," an Ascension hospital spokesperson said in a statement. "We remain committed to honoring human dignity and acting with integrity and compassion for all persons and the community. We do not condone racial discrimination of any kind. We will not comment on pending litigation."

Last year, Morris announced that he planned to file a lawsuit in the weeks after the incident, but the suit was officially filed on Monday.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.