DENVER – An anesthesiologist accused of posting a racially-charged comment on Facebook resigned from Denver Health Friday.
Denver Health says that Dr. Michelle Herren and the hospital “mutually agreed” to voluntarily part ways. Dr. Herren worked as a pediatric anesthesiologist for 10 years at the hospital.
The post that caused Dr. Herren to resign from the hospital was made public after a Denver7 story Monday. The Facebook post shows a picture of a yelling Michelle Obama with Dr. Herren commenting, “doesn't seem to be speaking too eloquently here, thank god we can't hear her! Harvard??? That's a place for "entitled" folks said all the liberals!” Dr. Herren goes onto comment, "Monkey face and poor ebonic English!!! There! I feel better and am still not racist!!! Just calling it like it is!"
Dr. Herren told Denver 7's Molly Hendrickson over the phone that her comment was taken "out of context" and insists she didn't realize the term “monkey face” is offensive. Herren said she was responding to another post pointing out people say whatever they want about Melania Trump, but if they do the same about Michelle Obama they're considered racist.
The comment has since been removed and Dr. Herren has taken down her Facebook page.
Before Friday's announcement, the hospital told Denver7 Tuesday that it couldn't control the opinions their staff expressed as private individuals. On Thursday, the hospital said Dr. Herren was not seeing any patients. She resigned Friday. Her salary at the publicly-funded hospital was $363,600.
The University of Colorado School of Medicine has also begun the process of terminating Dr. Herren's faculty appointment.
"She has expressed values that are at odds with ours and she has compromised her ability to meet the teaching and patient care missions of the School of Medicine," said School of Medicine Dean John J. Reilly, Jr. in a statement Thursday afternoon.
Legal experts said for public entities such as Denver Health termination procedures must consider First Amendment Free Speech Rights.
"It’s a little bit more complicated than you would think, and it really is going to depend on the facts as to whether that employer can take action," said Lorrie Ray with Mountain States Employers Council.
Ray said the actions would have to have a matter of public concern that disrupts the workplace to take adverse employment action.