Medical Practice Fired Woman Who Complained About Harassment, Federal Agency Charges
PITTSBURGH – A prominent cardiology practice in Washington, Pa., unlawfully subjected female employees to egregious sexual harassment and fired one woman in retaliation for her opposition to the harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, Moncel Deitz, who worked as a registered nurse, and a class of female employees were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment by three cardiologists, who were owners, shareholders or officers of the medical practice. The EEOC charges in its lawsuit against Bryan C. Donohue, M.D., doing business as Donohue Cardiology Associates, that these doctors frequently made sexually offensive and degrading comments to Deitz and other female employees. One doctor repeatedly suggested that Deitz or other nurses should perform oral sex on male patients, the EEOC said, and this doctor frequently undressed in front of female employees instead of changing in the dressing room. Another doctor allegedly often insisted that Deitz and other female employees view sexually explicit pictures and messages displayed on his cell phone.
Deitz and other employees complained to the harassers and to other owners/shareholders of the practice, to no avail. The EEOC said that instead of stopping the sexually harassing comments and conduct, the medical practice terminated Deitz in retaliation for her opposition to the sexual harassment.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful to sexually harass an employee and to retaliate against someone who complains about employment discrimination. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 09-1280, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The EEOC seeks back pay on behalf of Deitz, compensatory and punitive damages for Deitz and the class members, and other injunctive relief.
“No woman should be forced to endure unrelenting sexual harassment in order to earn a living,” said Debra Lawrence, acting regional attorney for the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, which oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Maryland and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. “It was not only heartless for the cardiology practice to terminate Ms. Deitz for opposing the hostile work environment, it was blatantly illegal.”
According to its web site, http://donohuecardiology.org, Donohue Cardiology Associates has five offices in Pennsylvania.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.