Federal suit claims sexual harassment

A former employee claims in a federal lawsuit that she was sexually harassed by a doctor, then fired from her job at Georgia Health Sciences University because she made a complaint.

The suit filed Sept. 9 demands unspecified compensation for the alleged events, which included remarks from Dr. Afshin Ameri that his department was hiring women with “big breasts,” the lawsuit states.

The complaint is brought by Debbie Ruth Johnson, who was hired as a social worker in the hematology/oncology department in February 2010. Less than a week after she started, Johnson alleges that Ameri, a physician in the department, told her he noticed that she was “sitting with her legs open,” the lawsuit states.

A month later, Ameri commented to another employee that the department was hiring women with “big breasts” and women who “show their knees,” referring to Johnson, the lawsuit states.

Johnson said she informed her supervisor and the department’s chairman, Dr. Roger Vega, of Ameri’s comments and requested a meeting to discuss them.

“Vega implored Johnson as a ‘personal favor,’ to allow him to handle the matter with Ameri ‘internally’ and asked that she not make a complaint with the Human Resources Department,” the lawsuit states.

This was because if Johnson made a complaint to human resources, Ameri would lose his job because of previous incidents and reports noted in his personnel file, the lawsuit states.

A meeting followed between the chairman of the pediatrics department, Vega, Johnson and Ameri, “ostensibly to satisfy Johnson that GHSU took the matter seriously” and to recommend that Ameri undergo sensitivity training. The lawsuit says that didn’t work because Ameri continued to make “irrational sex based statements” about Johnson.

Johnson was fired by Vega Aug. 11, 2010, claiming that she failed to “satisfactorily complete her provisional period,” the lawsuit states.

 

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