A nutritionist recently filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against her former employer, a cardiologist at an age-management clinic in Manhattan. She alleges that the doctor routinely subjected her to sexual harassment, including inappropriate sexual comments and unwanted physical contact, and that she was fired in retaliation for complaining about the doctor’s conduct. Federal, state, and New York City laws prohibit employment discrimination based on a person’s sex, and they all treat sexual harassment as a form of unlawful discrimination.
The complainant, a 32-year-old nutritionist and exercise counselor, began working for the age-management clinic in October 2011. She claims that he problems with the 53-year-old doctor began soon afterward, and continued until the end of her employment with the practice. The practice is part of a national chain, and the doctor is the director of its New York branch. He allegedly made inappropriate comments about the complainant’s appearance on a regular basis. He also, she claims, told her to look at naked pictures of patients, supposedly to “see how they responded to testosterone treatments.” He said that the pictures were for his medical journal, but the complainant said that he had them stored on his cell phone. She refused to look at the pictures and told him that they made her uncomfortable. He allegedly persisted, and also tried to show her more sexually-explicit pictures and text messages. The doctor also allegedly bragged to others in the office about providing Botox treatments to female patients in exchange for sexual favors.
The office manager, upon receiving reports of the doctor’s alleged conduct from the complainant, did not take any formal action but began accompanying her to the doctor’s office. After the office manager quit, the complainant claims that the doctor became more aggressive. She states that he attempted to kiss her on the mouth and hugged her while “pushing his hips” forward on several occasions. In August 2013, she claims that he came into her office and made a direct proposition for sexual activity. She went to a co-worker, who reported the matter to the new office director. The report came back to the doctor, who allegedly told her she had “a big mouth.” She claims that she was “ostracized” within the office after that, and was fired without cause in December.
She told the New York Daily News that she is suing the doctor and the practice to recover compensation “for the loss of work, stress and anxiety.” Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 allows an employee to recover damages for lost wages and other actual damages, as well as non-economic damages like mental anguish. It also allows punitive damages if the employer acted with recklessness or malice. The allegations against the doctor, if true, certainly seem to fit a general definition of “reckless” or “malicious,” and the complainant stated that she wants the respondents to “learn their lesson.” If the EEOC cannot settle the claim with the respondents, it will determine whether it will file suit on the complainant’s behalf. If it decides not to file suit, she may file on her own.
The sexual harassment attorneys at Phillips & Associates represent the rights of workers in New York City and surrounding areas, asserting claims of harassment and discrimination at the municipal, state, and federal levels. To schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case, please contact us today online or at (866) 229-9441.
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EEOC Settles Sexual Harassment, Sex Discrimination Claim with Bank for $1.45 Million, New York Employment Attorney Blog, March 12, 2014
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University Dismisses Chair of Philosophy Department After Report Finds Extensive Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment, New York Employment Attorney Blog, February 6, 2014