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OHSU to review employment practices in the wake of lawsuits

On Behalf of | May 9, 2021 | Employment Law

Oregon Health & Science University, or OHSU, a public educational institution for the study of medicine and health sciences, has announced that it recently hired a top legal team to review its employment practices and culture.

Noted attorneys, including a former United States Attorney General, will investigate ongoing problems with sexual harassment and other problems with discrimination at OHSU at the rate of over $2,000 an hour.  Those who work and study at the school have been invited to share their experiences with investigators.

The investigation comes on the heels of two lawsuits involving employees of OHSU committing inappropriate sexual acts against women.

One lawsuit includes an allegation of sexual assault against a resident doctor who remains employed at OHSU. To be fair, the alleged activity happened outside of the workplace; it is not clear whether the alleged misconduct involved a co-worker.

OHSU settles a claim involving a well-known resident doctor

The other allegation hit OHSU closer to home. Rather than contest the lawsuit, the medical giant agreed to pay over $575,000 to settle a woman’s sexual harassment claims.

The victim was a social worker who worked for the Veterans Affairs Medical Center near OHSU’s campus.

A resident doctor and employee of OHSU, who had privileges at the Medical Center, sent the woman sexualized text messages and a photograph that has been described as pornographic. He also approached both the victim and two other women from behind and pressed his body against theirs. A fourth woman also complained of being harassed by this doctor.

The perpetrator had become well-known on social media for doing dance moves in his hospital scrubs.

OHSU eventually disciplined the doctor, and he no longer works at OHSU.

However, when these reports first came to the attention of senior management, they allegedly opted to offer to talk to the doctor about his behavior. The allegations were not reported to OHSU’s Title IX official, who would be expected to handle an internal investigation.

Victims of sexual harassment deserve justice

Whether at public and private institutions, sexual harassment is illegal and wrong.

Despite lots of promises to the contrary, this sort of behavior nonetheless continues to occur at many institutions. Sometimes, those who should know better even turn a blind eye to it.

Victims of sexual harassment who work in the Portland area are entitled to hold those responsible for preventing sexual harassment accountable when they fail to do so.