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California hospital employee wins wrongful termination lawsuit

Sexual harassment is illegal in the workplace, and employees in San Diego and throughout the entire U.S. are protected under specific laws when they raise formal complaints about misconduct in the workplace with their employers.

Employers are required to address the complaints of employees regarding harassment or discrimination in the workplace, and if investigations prove that allegations of misconduct are valid, employers are responsible for taking appropriate actions to discipline employees for the inappropriate and illegal behavior.

Unfortunately, when a former employee of Mercy General Hospital in California filed several complaints about sexual harassment in the hospital's cardiovascular surgery unit, she was eventually fired in August 2008. She argued that management failed to properly address her claims, and as a result, her co-workers retaliated against her and she was wrongfully terminated.

The woman filed a lawsuit against the hospital for wrongful termination, claiming that she was retaliated against for raising concerns about misconduct in the workplace. However, Mercy General Hospital argued that the employee was fired because she failed to show up to work one day. The woman was on-call, but no one notified her that she needed to report to work that day, the lawsuit stated.

After being subjected to unwanted sexual advances in the workplace and listening to sexually explicit conversations amongst co-workers without management taking proper action to put an end to the harassment, the lawsuit claimed that the woman suffered mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life. The former employee suffered further damages after she was wrongfully terminated for speaking out about the hostile work environment.

The woman's case went to trial last month. A Sacramento jury deliberated for two days after the 11-day trial. The jury concluded that the employee was wrongfully terminated and that she should be awarded $167 million in damages including: punitive damages, lost wages, mental suffering and humiliation.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "Sacramento jury awards $167 million to former Mercy hospital employee," Denny Walsh, March 1, 2012