Jury hits medical practice with $350,000 verdict in sexual harassment suitPosted On: Jul. 25, 2012 12:00 AM CST
BALTIMORE—Three former employees of a Maryland medical practice were awarded $350,000 in a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against their supervisors, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced.
The EEOC, in a 2010 lawsuit, had accused two senior executives at Baltimore-based Endoscopic Microsurgery Associates P.A. of making repeated, unwanted sexual advances toward female employees and then retaliating against them for rejecting the advances.
According to court documents, Endoscopic CEO Dr. Mark Noar and Chief Financial Officer Martin Virga repeatedly asked female employees for dates and made comments about their clothes, appearance and personal relationships. Both also were accused of touching female employees against their will in a sexual manner.
When several female employees complained about the conditions at the company's Townsend, Md., office, Dr. Noar and Mr. Virga responded by punitively denying them paid leave without cause, throwing paper and other objects at them, and other “disrespectful” acts, according to the EEOC lawsuit.
Ultimately, at least one woman—Linda Luz, a former receptionist for the company—alleged she was fired for complaining about her employers' persistent behavior.
On Tuesday, a Baltimore federal jury awarded Ms. Luz, former Study Coordinator Jacqueline Huskins and former Nurse Kimberly Hutchinson $110,000 each in punitive damages, plus $4,000 to $10,000 each in compensatory damages.
“This verdict is significant because it reminds high-level officials who function as the employer that their high level does not give them license to abuse women,” Debra Lawrence, regional attorney of the EEOC's Philadelphia district office, said in a statement.
Reached at his office, Dr. Noar declined to comment on the verdict in detail, but signaled that the company is considering an appeal.
“It would be inappropriate to make any comment on the jury decision at this time, especially since the case has not yet concluded,” Dr. Noar said.