Med school staffer takes disability over comedic noose on campus

An Oregon med school assistant took disability leave over a noose that was found accompanying a humorous display about stress relief, demanding concrete action from a “tone-deaf” administration.

Oregon Health and Science University Medical Assistant Maria Frazier, who is African-American, claims she was shocked to discover a noose taped to the top of an explicitly-comedic poster about stress reduction.

“Stress reduction kit. Bang head here,” the flyer stated, presumably prompting stressed out med students to bang their heads against the wall in a futile attempt at stress relief.

Following suit, an unidentified physician’s assistant taped a miniature noose to the flyer in a comedic, though perhaps gruesome, gesture, later telling his employer that it was a joke about stress and not intended to be a racial statement, The Portland Tribune reports.

Frazier, though, was so distressed by the incident that she took disability leave from her job at the school’s hospital and solicited the help of her union leaders, who filed a grievance with the university, claiming that she felt the noose was targeting her since she is African-American. 

“This type of behavior that she was subjected to should not be tolerated under any circumstances, but especially in a place of healing and learning,” Matt Hilton, President of Local 328 of the American Federation of County, State and Municipal Employees, argued, noting that members of his union have been fired for “much, much less” though “in this case the person wasn’t even put on leave.”

A university spokeswoman, however, defended the university’s handling of the matter, telling The Tribune that her school “thoroughly investigated the employee’s complaint and subsequent grievance in accordance with well-established policies and procedures.”

Additionally, in response to the union’s grievance, administrators of the Oregon med school issued a statement explaining that while they are “sad she has perceived this incident as a racial gesture or that it was directed at her,” their “investigation concluded this was clearly not the case.”

They did, though, agree to reimburse Frazier’s disability insurer for her absence from work, but she continues to claim that doctor’s orders prevent her from returning, noting that she “can’t deal with it.”

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