Medical Assistant May Bring Sexual Discrimination Claim Against Employer

A recent Pennsylvania case looked at whether a medical assistant who was subjected to three days of sexual overtures by a doctor who worked for her employer could go to trial on claims of sexual harassment and retaliation.

The court determined she could. The medial assistant – Aimee Fox – complained about a doctor employed by Premier Immediate Medical Care, LLC, the same corporation that employed her. Shortly afterward, she was fired from her job. The court said that the amount of evidence she provided could be enough for a jury to determined she was subjected to sexual harassment and sexual discrimination in violated of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Unfortunately although we’d all like to think that sex discrimination is a relic of the past, in many work places women are still treated as sex objects. If you believe you have been discriminated at work because of your sex, or have been subjected to sexual harassment, it is important to consult with a top Atlanta sex discrimination lawyer right away.

Sex discrimination generally refers to negative employment actions taken based on a person’s sex – such as not hiring or not promoting someone because she is a woman.

On the other hand, sexual harassment refers to unwelcome conduct (typically sexual in nature) that makes you uncomfortable. In legal terms to show sexual harassment you must show that you have been subjected to unwelcome conduct that creates a hostile environment based on your sex that is sufficiently severe and pervasive to alter the terms and conditions of your employment. Although no bright line exists defining what sexual harassment is and what it is not what is clear is that, whether you’re a man or a woman, if you are subjected to a steady stream of unwelcome and offensive conduct that is based on your sex, you complain about the harassment to your employer, but your employer does nothing about it, you probably have a strong claim of sexual harassment.

Here, Judge Mitchell S. Goldberg found that Aimee Fox stated both a claim of hostile work environment sexual harassment, as well as a claim that she was fired from Premier Immediate Medical Care LLC for complaining about the actions of Dr. Conti.

The alleged actions in this case were fairly explicit. For example, Fox alleged that Conti, among other things, told a group of people that she “looked like [she] was holding a penis” when she was eating a banana; told her she had a “really nice body”; and rubbed her neck without her consent. Fox also alleged that Conti gave her seven barbiturate pills over the course of five hours and asked if she was feeling drowsy and needed to lie down after she (falsely) said she had taken them.

Fox also alleged that, at various times, Conti told other workers at the practice about a date in which he planned to perform oral sex on his partner, demonstrating it on an egg roll he was eating; asked a co-worker to let him photograph her; demanded that another co-worker allow him to examine her; and tried to glimpse yet another co-worker undergoing a medical exam.

Despite allegedly complaining to the practice’s human resources director, medical director, and nursing manager, nothing was done. Fox was fired a month later.

The court found the evidence was sufficient to allow a jury to determine whether Conti’s alleged conduct-toward both Fox and co-workers-was severe and pervasive, detrimentally affected Fox, and would have detrimentally affected other reasonable women in Fox’s position, it said.

The court also found that Fox presented sufficient evidence to allow a jury to decide whether Premier could be held liable for Conti’s conduct. The court said there was evidence that Premier’s doctors, like Conti, had authority to direct and advise medical assistants, and that Conti threatened medical assistants with discipline on several occasions. In addition, the court noted, Premier had no employee handbook and conducted no sexual harassment training. As a result, the hospital may be held responsible for the physician’s conduct.

Such actions as described in this sexual harassment and sexual discrimination lawsuit are despicable, and unfortunately exist far too often in the work place.

If you have suffered any such harassment or discrimination based on your sex, it’s imperative to contact a skilled Georgia sexual harassment lawyer right away. For more information call the top Atlanta sex discrimination attorneys at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.