Suing Your Boss: Taking Action Against Sexual Assault
A licensed practical nurse, known only as Jane Doe to keep her identity anonymous, is filing suit against her former colleague and supervisor Newton Dr. Hooshang D. Poor for damages related to an alleged sexual assault. The civil suit was filed on March 25th in Middlesex Superior Court. After Dr. Poor settled a dispute related to Medicare fraud, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine indefinitely suspended Dr. Poor’s medical license. While the lawsuit is still making its way through the legal system, the case is raising awareness for nurses’ rights in the workplace, showing other healthcare workers how they can take legal action against perpetrators of sexual assault.
Why Jane Doe Decided to Sue
The alleged sexual assault took place on September 16th, 2016. At the time, Jane Doe and Dr. Poor were working together at the Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation Tower Hill Nursing Home in Canton, MA. Jane Doe claims Dr. Poor groped her from behind while they were on the job at the facility. The suit claims the nurse has lost income and incurred expenses related to medical treatment due to the alleged assault and will likely incur more expenses down the line.
As the lawsuit states, “As a result of Poor’s assault on her, the (nurse) has been seriously and permanently injured, and continues to suffer at present from psychological disease, which impairs and affects all aspects of her life.”
After the assault, the nurse returned to work at the Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation Tower Hill Nursing Home. According to details from the suit, she had to go out of her way to avoid encountering Dr. Poor at the facility. After she left the Tower Hill facility, she has had to continue to avoid Dr. Poor at other nursing homes throughout the area. This has “caused her to suffer continual emotional upset and interfered with her employment opportunities and schedule,” as stated in the lawsuit.
While it’s unclear whether the nurse reported the incident to the police, she promptly reported it to the nursing home’s human resources office.
What to Do Before Filing a Lawsuit Related to Sexual Assault
If a nurse or healthcare worker is assaulted in any way on the job, they may consider following in Jane Doe’s footsteps and filing a similar lawsuit. When an assault occurs, the nurse should promptly report it to their facility’s HR office and the local police. The authorities will then decide whether or not they have sufficient evidence to prosecute the perpetrator. Reporting the incident to the authorities and human resources strengthens the plaintiff’s case if they decide to sue down the line. If they don’t report the incident, the defendant may try to use this as evidence that the assault never took place.
In terms of filing a lawsuit, the plaintiff will need to prove that they incurred damages as a result of the alleged assault, which may include a loss of employment or income, physical and emotional distress, and medical bills such as physical therapy, mental health services, and other related treatment options. The nurse should make an effort to keep a copy of all his or her medical bills and receipts related to the assault in case they need to be entered as evidence.
Nurses may suffer in more ways than one after surviving an assault, including loss of income and employment opportunities, increased healthcare costs, anxiety, depression, physical pain, and other mental and physical symptoms. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the lifetime cost of rape per victim is $122,461. Sexual assault cases cost the U.S. around $93 billion a year. After an assault occurs, 81% of women and 35% of men report significant short- or long-term impacts such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Nurses should understand the legal implications of filing a lawsuit against their employers or colleagues. It’s important for plaintiffs to report the incident to the proper authorities and keep copies of all the bills they’ve incurred since the alleged assault took place, including any changes to their employment. This increases the chances that the suit will be successful. Survivors of sexual assault should speak to their HR representative or a lawyer for more information.