TAMPA, Fla. – Pediatric Health Care Alliance, a Tampa-based pediatric medical practice, violated federal law when it retaliated against a female registered nurse for reporting that a doctor, who was also a company vice president, inappropriately touched her, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. The employer transferred her to another location where her work conditions were intolerable so that she was forced to resign, the EEOC said.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the male doctor inappropriately touched the nurse twice. The employee reported the incidents to her supervisor, who agreed the behavior was inappropriate, and directed her to go to human resources. In retaliation for reporting these incidents, Pediatric Health Care Alliance transferred the employee to a different location, where many of her job duties as a nurse were taken away and her pay was reduced. The nurse was forced to resign as a consequence of this retaliation, the EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who object to such discrimination.
The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida (EEOC vs. Pediatric Health Care Alliance, P.A., Case No. 8:20-cv-01428) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for the discrimination victim, and injunctive relief.
“The EEOC will address employers who punish their employees for properly reporting inappropriate conduct, making the victim even worse off,” said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Miami District Office. “That is illegal retaliation and should not be tolerated.”
Evangeline Hawthorne, director of the EEOC’s Tampa Field Office, added, “The EEOC will not tolerate retaliation. Employees cannot be made to fear reporting inappropriate conduct; they should know their rights will be protected.”
The EEOC’s Miami District Office is comprised of the Miami, Tampa, and San Juan offices and has jurisdiction over most of Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The EEOC’s Miami District employs multiple bilingual investigators who speak English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, French and Portuguese.
The EEOC advances opportunities in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.