Employees at Endoscopic Microsurgery Associates Harassed or Fired for Rejecting And Complaining About Harassment, Federal Agency Charged
BALTIMORE – A federal jury has awarded $350,000 in compensatory and punitive damages to three former employees Endoscopic Microsurgery Associates, a Baltimore-area medical practice, who were subjected to unwanted sexual advances by the chief executive officer and the chief financial officer, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, Linda Luz, a receptionist for Endoscopic Microsurgery Associates, P.A. / Mark D. Noar, M.D. & Associates, was repeatedly subjected to unwanted sexual advances and a sexually hostile work environment by CEO Dr. Mark Noar and CFO Martin Virga. After Luz repeatedly rejected the advances, the medical practice began retaliating against her by issuing to her unwarranted discipline and rescinding approved leave, which eventually culminated in her retaliatory termination. Study coordinator Jacqueline Huskins similarly experienced unwanted sexual advances from Noar and Virga, as did nurse Kimberly Hutchinson from Noar.
Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The Baltimore jury of nine returned a unanimous verdict finding that the claimants were entitled to compensatory damages in amounts ranging from $4,000 to $10,000, and awarded each claimant punitive damages in the amount of $110,000.
“This verdict is significant because it reminds high-level officials who function as the employer that their high level does not give them license to abuse women – they must treat employees as professionals,” said Debra Lawrence, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office.
EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney and lead counsel Maria Salacuse added, “This case emphasizes the necessity of employers having in place meaningful and enforceable policies guarding against such mistreatment.”
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov