Federal suit claims sexual harassment

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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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stillamazed
1488
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stillamazed 09/26/11 - 03:02 pm
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Supervisors should know if

Supervisors should know if they fire a person shortly after such a complaint that a law suit will follow. If this happened to her like she says and if her getting fired had anything to do with her complaint then she deserves to get compensated.

CarlA
114
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CarlA 09/26/11 - 05:14 pm
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I guess GHSU had to implement

I guess GHSU had to implement the layoffs to pay the lawsuits!

wtinney
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wtinney 09/27/11 - 02:52 am
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Stillamazed, I agree with you

Stillamazed, I agree with you as long as the circumstances and facts can be well-established. I believe they were in this case but understand that a complaintant, under your rational, could end up forwarding a civil suit for age, race, sex, sexual harrassment, religious aspects, quickly as soon as they learn that they will not be retained after their probational or provisionary employment (or even given a hint that they may not be retained). Then every statement becomes scrutinized in the workplace concerning the complaint's focus turning a legitimate means to be heard under the law into a means to basically keep their jobs (or get significant resources because they lost the job).

Willow Bailey
20255
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Willow Bailey 09/27/11 - 10:39 am
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Time for Dr. Ricardo Azziz's

Time for Dr. Ricardo Azziz's next seminar on "What isn't COOL at MCG.

PalmTree
0
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PalmTree 09/27/11 - 03:40 pm
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As a parent of a patient at

As a parent of a patient at this facility, I would like to express my deep concern with this matter. Dr. Ameri and Dr. Vega are exceptional doctors that provide our children with the upmost care. While I understand that it is very important to uphold employee rights in a work environment, I am also concerned that if these doctors lose their jobs our children will be impacted greatly. With all due respect, there isn't an abdunace of pediatric hematologist floating around the Augusta area. Lastly, the comments could have been blown completely out of context. It wouldn't be the first time someone has falsely accused a fellow employee for money.

Willow Bailey
20255
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Willow Bailey 09/27/11 - 07:22 pm
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The courts will decide, as

The courts will decide, as they should, as to validity of this case. Considering anyone to be irreplaceable feeds their ego and empowers bad behavior. Your children will be cared for with or without these particular doctors. Everyone , including doctors, must be accountable for their actions. It wouldn't be the first time a person in power over others, made inappropriate remarks, created an unhealthy work environment and then found "cause" for their dismissal upon them asking for help in the matter.

lawmom
0
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lawmom 09/27/11 - 09:31 pm
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I am also a parent of a

I am also a parent of a patient at this facility. Dr. Vega, Dr. Ameri, and the professionals at the MCG Ped Hem-Onc Clinic have been compassionate and caring, have given my child excellent medical care, have trained many medical professionals, and have been our family's lifeline. As a lawyer, I know that anyone can file a lawsuit. Wait until the proof is in, and the case decided, before judging these people. I know Vega and Ameri to be good people. Good people can make mistakes, but they can also be falsely accused. We have only seen one side of this story. God be with all who are involved, during this stressful time. May the truth be shown.

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