New York Gastroenterologist Sues Hospital for Sexual Harassment

500px-Upper_gastrointestinal_tract.svg.pngA doctor who worked as a gastroenterologist at a Lackawanna hospital filed suit for sexual harassment, claiming that she endured verbal harassment and a hostile work environment. The lawsuit has persisted for over a decade, working its way up to the Court of Appeals and back to the District Court, addressing some rather arcane factual and legal questions. So far, those questions seem to have missed the central question of whether or not she was sexually harassed and whether or not the defendants owe her compensation.

Barbara E. Salamon, M.D. began working at Our Lady of Victory Hospital in Lackawanna in September 1994 as a gastroenterologist (GI). To use the hospital’s terminology, this is when she gained “staff privileges.” She alleged that the chief of the GI division began to make “inappropriate and unwelcome” comments directed at her shortly after she began working there. The comments, she claimed, gained in frequency and became more sexual as time passed. She said that she rejected all of his advances. The chief allegedly began a sexual relationship with a nurse in the GI division, which Salamon said contributed to a hostile work environment for her.

Salamon reportedly met with the CEO and chief of staff of the hospital to report the alleged harassment. She also complained of “inappropriate and inadequate treatment” by male doctors in the GI division, including performance reviews that appeared to be aimed exclusively at her. Salamon said that, despite assurances to the contrary, hospital administrators did not follow up on her complaint. She also says that she was subjected to retaliation for making the report to the administration. Salamon ceased working at the hospital in 2003, when it merged with Mercy Hospital. This ended her “staff privileges.”

She filed suit on January 21, 1999 against Our Lady of Victory Hospital, the chief of the GI division, and several other doctors. The suit claimed violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New York Human Rights Law (NYHRL. Both laws prohibit sexual harassment as a form of gender discrimination. The case spent some time in discovery, during which time the defendants moved for summary judgment. The defendants alleged that neither Title VII nor the NYHRL applied to Salamon because she was not an “employee” of the hospital, just someone with “staff privileges.” The district judge granted the defendants’ summary judgment motion on March 8, 2006, dismissing the Title VII and NYHRL claims.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals, in reviewing the matter, found a genuine issue of material fact as to Salamon’s employment status. It vacated the trial court’s judgment and remanded the case to district court. This time, the trial court denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment on March 30, 2012. The defendants filed a motion to reconsider, which the court denied on June 23, 2012. More than thirteen years after the case was filed, the court intends to set a trial date to determine, among other claims, whether Salamon was sexually harassed and/or discriminated against in violation of federal and New York anti-discrimination statutes.

The New York sexual harassment lawyers at Phillips & Associates represent victims of workplace sexual harassment and discrimination, fighting to protect their rights. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431.

Web Resources:

Memorandum and Order (PDF), Salamon v. Our Lady of Victory Hospital, et al, U.S. District Court, Western District of New York, March 8, 2006
Amended Opinion, Salamon v. Our Lady of Victory Hospital, et al, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, April 22, 2008
Decision and Order, Salamon v. Our Lady of Victory Hospital, et al, U.S. District Court, Western District of New York, March 30, 2012
Decision and Order, Salamon v. Our Lady of Victory Hospital, et al, U.S. District Court, Western District of New York, June 23, 2012
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Photo credit: ‘Upper gastrointestinal tract’ by Lozzaaa [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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