Medical Practice Punished Nurse for Reporting Harassment by Doctor, Federal Agency Charged
TAMPA – Pediatric Healthcare Alliance, a Tampa Bay-based pediatric medical practice, will pay $50,000 and furnish other relief to settle a retaliation discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, a nurse reported to her supervisor and to human resources that one of the practice’s doctors inappropriately touched her twice. In response to her complaint, Pediatric Healthcare Alliance, over her objections, transferred the nurse to a different location, causing her personal hardship and resulting in the nurse earning fewer overtime hours. The company also prevented her from working on the doctor’s patient files, 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 v. Pediatric Healthcare Alliance, P.A. et al, Case No. 8:20-cv-01428) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the $50,000 in damages, the three-year consent decree settling the suit requires Pediatric Healthcare to amend its retaliation policy; conduct training on Title VII; provide annual reports to the EEOC; and post an anti-discrimination notice.
“More than half of the charges filed with the EEOC allege retaliation,” said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Miami District. “This lawsuit and its resolution show that the EEOC will stand up to retaliation against employees who come forward to report inappropriate conduct.”
The EEOC’s Tampa Field Office director, Evangeline Hawthorne, added, “We are pleased that in addition to monetary relief for the harmed individual, this settlement helps ensure that any employee who reports inappropriate conduct in the future will not experience retaliation. We encourage other employers to review their policies and practices to ensure that employees’ rights will be protected when they report inappropriate conduct.”
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.