Friday, January 27, 2023

EMT says she was fired from Sentara after reporting sexual harassment, according to court documents

Sentara Hospital
Sentara Hospital

A former emergency medical technician is suing Sentara Healthcare after she was allegedly fired because she reported that a male colleague sexually harassed her while they were on the job, according to a federal complaint.

Suzanne Grimes, a former Sentara Healthcare EMT, said she was fired from the organization in March 2017 after nearly 13 years on the job because she reported that one of her coworkers allegedly sexually harassed her, according to a federal complaint filed in the U.S. Eastern District Court of Virginia.

“Sentara takes allegations of this nature very seriously. We investigate every concern and respond appropriately according to our policies and the law,” Sentara spokeswoman Liz Vandendriessche wrote in an email, adding that Grimes and her male coworker are not current employees of the organization.

Grimes said the sexual harassment began about seven months before she reported it to her supervisor and a Sentara Healthcare human resources official. The alleged harassment included sexually explicit comments about Grimes’ body, other female coworkers and the accused man’s own body, including his genitals, according to the complaint.

Grimes said the man showed her pictures of his genitals and talked about his sexual relationship with other women. On a “few” occasions, the man allegedly asked Grimes if she would touch his genitals, the complaint states.

About two weeks before she reported the alleged sexual harassment, Grimes said that the man exposed himself to her at the Sentara Careplex in Hampton, according to the complaint.

Grimes said she suffered from back and neck pain, and in February 2017 she allowed the accused male coworker to give her a neck massage, which according to the lawsuit, she’d allowed him to do before that date. During the massage, the male coworker allegedly asked Grimes if he could touch her breast, and she said no, the complaint states.

She said that he made a reference to his genitals and said he was going to have to “do something” about the state he was in after the neck massage. Grimes said she immediately recoiled from him after he made that comment, according to the complaint.

Afterward, they both went into the hospital so they could return equipment and clock out. The male coworker went toward the bathroom, and called out to get Grimes’ attention. When she turned toward him, he allegedly exposed himself to her, the complaint states.

After she rejected his advances that day, the male coworker was allegedly hostile toward Grimes, which led her to report the behavior to her supervisors and the human resources department, according to the complaint.

On March 10, Grimes had a meeting with them, and a Sentara Healthcare human resources official accused her of “falsifying” information about where the pair were when the male coworker allegedly asked to touch her breast. The official said she did not believe Grimes was telling the truth because Grimes had asked for assistance in determining the exact date she and the man had worked together at Sentara Careplex in Hampton, the complaint states.

She was fired and the human resources official said she believed Grimes “made the incident up and, in doing so, had destroyed her credibility with management and her relationship with her co-workers,” according to the complaint.

Grimes is asking for a jury to determine if Sentara Healthcare should have to pay her back for lost and future earnings and benefits, as well as damages for pain and suffering.

Southside Daily attempted to contact Grimes lawyers for a comment on the lawsuit, but did not receive a response before publication.


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