U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Male Manager at Women’s Clinic Repeatedly Made Offensive and Derogatory Comments About Female Patients and Staff
PHOENIX — Phoenician Medical Center, Inc., violated federal law by subjecting a class of female employees to a sexually and gender-based hostile work environment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it has filed.
The EEOC’s lawsuit, CIV 11-01908-PHX-SRB, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, alleges that female employees were routinely subjected to unwelcome sexual and gender-based harassment, including unwelcome sexual comments from the company’s Chief Medical Officer.
The EEOC’s suit alleges that the doctor made repeated comments of a sexual nature about patients and staff, and repeated hand gestures symbolizing sexual intercourse. The complaint further alleges that the Chief Medical Officer would routinely refer to female patients and staff in a degrading and derogatory way, frequently calling them the b-word or various other demeaning and offensive terms. It is also alleged that other managers and/or supervisors knew about the hostile work environment and failed to do anything about it. Finally, the EEOC alleges that employees were retaliated against for opposing and/or complaining about the hostile work environment by unwarranted discipline and/or termination.
This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which prohibit employment discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, or national origin, as well as retaliation. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The lawsuit seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for the victim who filed a charge with the EEOC and for the other females affected, as well as appropriate injunctive relief to prevent any further discriminatory practices.
“Employers who subject individuals to harassment based on sex are violating federal law,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office. “The nature of the remarks made in this case, coupled with the frequency with which the manager uttered them, is appalling. No woman should have to endure this type of conduct in order to earn a living.”
EEOC’s District Director Rayford O. Irvin, added, “There is so much news about vulgarity and a lack of civility in society, but employers cannot allow such harassing, demeaning conduct toward women to permeate the workplace. Sexually degrading language, name-calling, and demeaning comments toward women are never appropriate, and retaliating against employees who complain about such treatment is unlawful.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.