Four Tops singer Alexander Morris sues hospital for ordering psych eval after not believing he was in group

"Racial profiling nearly cost me my life," the singer says, accusing hospital of racial discrimination, negligence when staff refused emergency services in 2023.

Four Tops singer Alexander Morris is suing a Michigan hospital for refusing emergency medical services and ordering a psychiatric evaluation instead when personnel didn't believe he was a member of the Motown group.

The singer, who joined the vocal group in 2019, filed a lawsuit against Ascension Macomb-Oakland Hospital in Warren, Mich., alleging that a nurse and a security guard — both of whom are white and are also named as defendants in the suit — racially profiled him alongside a white doctor when he checked into the hospital with chest pain and difficulty breathing, according to documents obtained by PEOPLE and reviewed by Entertainment Weekly. After being transported to the facility via ambulance, the suit says that the hospital staff did not believe Morris, 53, when he identified himself as the lead singer of the Four Tops and ordered a psych evaluation, even removing his oxygen device in the process.

"It was a terrifying experience to be in the middle of a medical emergency, to be placed into restraints, to have my oxygen turned off, my personal effects taken from me, and no help from the doctors and nurses because of the color of my skin," Morris told EW in a statement provided by his lawyers.

<p>Pedro Becerra/Redferns</p> Lawrence Payton Jr., Alexander Morris, Ronnie McNeir, and Abdul Duke Fakir of the Four Tops

Pedro Becerra/Redferns

Lawrence Payton Jr., Alexander Morris, Ronnie McNeir, and Abdul Duke Fakir of the Four Tops

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The suit alleges that when Morris offered to prove his identity with ID, the security guard told him to “sit his Black ass down” and was ordered to be placed in a restraining jacket and/or a four-point restraint mechanism. The document says Morris “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.”

"Racial profiling nearly cost me my life," Morris said. "I asked to leave and go seek treatment at another hospital but was told to sit my Black ass down and was not allowed to leave."

Morris’ wife later intervened, telling the staff that he really is part of the Four Tops, which the staff allegedly ignored until Morris asked a nurse to watch a video of him performing with the group at the Grammys, the suit says. That nurse then contacted the ER doctor, who canceled the psych evaluation.

<p>Lorne Thomson/Redferns</p>

Lorne Thomson/Redferns

Morris was later diagnosed with a heart infraction and pneumonia during his stay at the hospital and had three seizures during his time there. The hospital offered him a $25 gift card to the grocery store Meijers for his trouble, the suit says.

"The hospital denied my identity and my basic human dignity and then offered me a gift card," Morris said. "I see all of these posts on social media like 'driving while black,' 'walking while black,' but I never imagined I would become a victim of 'being sick while Black.' The hospital never fired the security guard that told me to sit my Black ass down. Clearly they condone racism. I filed the lawsuit to hold the hospital accountable for the way I was treated and to protect the younger generations from racism in healthcare."

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An Ascension spokesperson told EW that, while they will not comment on pending litigation, "The health, safety and well-being of our patients, associates and community members remains our top priority. 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."

The lawsuit also claims that a different security guard called Morris and told him that the original security guard made racist jokes to his coworkers and repeatedly used excessive force when interacting with patients, but that he had not been reprimanded for his behavior. The caller also said he saw hospital personnel tampering with the incident report and that he thinks the racial slur was removed from the document, also noting that he and his coworkers were told to avoid discussing the incident.

"The hospital staff and security guard were quicker to assume Mr. Morris was psychotic than successful because he was a Black man," Morris' attorneys, Maurice Davis and Jasmine Rand, said in a statement to EW. "Can you imagine how horrifying it must have been to present to an emergency room with a heart condition and pneumonia, you reveal your identity to the hospital, they don't believe you and put you in restraints and cut your oxygen off?"

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"Even if he was mentally ill he was still in the middle of a clear medical emergency that necessitated swift medical intervention," the lawyers' statement continued. "The hospital had no excuse to deny him emergency medical treatment. We filed a lawsuit against the hospital because we will not tolerate the continued racial discrimination of minorities in America's healthcare system. All of the nursing staff who witnessed the racism levied at our client and failed to intervene for his safety should be disciplined.”

Morris alleges racial discrimination, violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, negligence, gross negligence, battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. He seeks damages in excess of $75,000.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.