The first circuit court of appeals affirmed a harassment judgment brought by a female neurosurgeon against a Boston hospital affiliated with the Harvard health care system in the amount of $2.9 Million Dollars. In the case of Tuli v. Brigham & Woman’s Hospital, No 08-2006,(8/29/11), the First Circuit Court of Appeals, affirmed the judgment of the trial court in favor of Dr. Tuli. The court affirmed that Dr. Arthur Day and Dr. Kim Dong created a hostile work environment by making comments about Dr. Tuli that were blatantly sexist and humiliating. Dr. Tuli complained to the hospital’s chief medical officer, without receiving any remedy.
The court also found that the jury could reasonably have found that Dr. Day, as residency director and department vice-chairman retaliated against her for her complaints to the hospital by misleading a hospital committee into requiring her to receive outside counseling in order to obtain a continuation of her privileges. Allegations of mental illness are frequent weapons used in a sham peer review process. Even though wrapped in the friendly construct of “counseling,” the recommendation could reasonably be considered as a sufficiently onerous to be an “adverse action” prompted by a retaliatory motive.
Dr. Day apparently played the female hormone card. He told the hospital credential’s committee that Dr. Tuli experienced “mood swings” and that surgical support staff did not want to work with her as a result. He suggested she undergo anger management treatment without advising the committee of the allegations she raised against him.
The Circuit Court held that the “accumulated effect of incidents of humiliating, offensive comments directed at women and work-sabotaging pranks, take together, can constitute a hostile work environment.”
The fact that Dr. Day presented this information in the re-credentialing process without disclosing Dr. Tuli’s complaints against him was strong evidence of malicious and retaliatory behavior.