When the Employer is the Bully

One of the most difficult workplace bullying scenarios occurs  when the employer is the bully.

There may be no one to complain to except the harasser.

This scenario occurred to three former employees of a Baltimore medical practice who were subjected to sexual harassment  by two of the company’s highest ranking officials.  They complained to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  (EEOC ), which announced Tuesday that a federal jury had awarded the women $350,000 in damages.

The EEOC filed the lawsuit on behalf of the women against Endoscopic Microsurgery, alleging that Associate’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Mark D. Noar, M.D., and  its Chief Financial Officer Martin Virga subjected the women to frequent unwanted sexual comments, physically touching and grabbing a female worker’s rear end, kissing and blowing on female employees’ necks and other sexually egregious comments and touching.

According to the EEOC, after Linda Luz, a receptionist, rejected their advances, the medical practice began retaliating against her by issuing unwarranted discipline, rescinding approved leave, and eventually firing her.

Administrator Jacqueline Huskins also experienced unwanted sexual advances from Noar and Virga, as did nurse Kimberly Hutchinson from Noar.

The Baltimore jury of nine returned a unanimous verdict for the plaintiffs and awarded each woman punitive damages of $110,000. The jury also held the claimants were entitled to compensatory damages in amounts ranging from $4,000 to $10,000.

Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It says something about this employer that it failed to negotiate a settlement in this case when it had the opportunity to do so. The EEOC filed suit after attempting unsuccessfully to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. Publicity from this fiasco is not likely to encourage new patients to flock to the clinic, nor is it likely to encourage confidence in these medical professionals from existing patients. Duh.

“This verdict is significant because it reminds high-level officials who function as the employer that their high level does not give them license to abuse women – they must treat employees as professionals,” said Debra Lawrence, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office.

 

Comments

  1. I have gone through EEOC and Florida Commission on Human Rights and received a determination of ‘no cause’ of discrimination!! I’ve been fighting this since May 2012 and now want to know if anyone can tell me who is the highest court here to get some results?? I have now moved to Massachusetts from Florida from a deep state of depression from the bullying, harassing and humiliating actions toward me by my boss in Human Resources. Help, I’m not giving up on this and need some information…..Thank you.

    • Read the documents provided to you by the EEOC regarding your rights. Deadlines are critical. Once you receive a Notice-of-Right-to- Sue, you must file your lawsuit within 90 days. If you do not receive a notice, you can file anytime after 60 days have passed from the day you filed your charge (but no later than 90 days after you receive notice that our investigation is concluded).

  2. Daniel Baral says:

    Such non-sense. When the EEOC thinks that an employer is guilty; once the government has decided against some one, it doesn’t matter if the accused party is guilty or not. The case against my employer was completely false. The truth was not relevant to the government or the court. Once the judge believes an accused to be guilty, he or she will guide the trial in such a way so as to guarantee the outcome that he/she wishes such as by limiting testimony about the accuser; limiting exculpatory evidence about the accused, etc. I am sure that this is ALSO done to accusers about whom the government (and judge when a case goes to trial) believes to be bringing either a false or frivolous case. If these actions are taken against the innocent in order to mold an investigation and trial to a certain outcome of guilt, there is no doubt the the opposite is done — in which case I feel terribly for people/accusers who can not obtain justice for crimes committed against them, The entire process of investigation and trial/hearings is corrupt, It is disgusting as to what was done to my employer…As I said, it is probably done to the accuser as well when there is actually guilt. Shame on the EEOC. This is what happens when the government gets out of control.

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