Was Nurse Fired for Reporting a Sexual Assault?
She's sued the hospital where the alleged incident took place.
Published: June 17, 2014
A surgical nurse is seeking $1 million in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed against the Texas hospital where she used to work, claiming she was fired for reporting that she was sexually assaulted by a co-worker, according to court records.
On the evening of October 30, 2012, at North Hills Hospital in North Richland Hills, the woman told police that Gregory Henderson, RN, began massaging her shoulders at a nurses station in the surgical department and motioned for her to follow him down a hall. The alleged victim complied, thinking Mr. Henderson wanted to discuss a work matter. Instead, she claims, he pulled her into a unisex bathroom.
With the door locked and the lights off, he pulled up her scrub shirt, kissed her and fondled her breasts, according to the police report. He tried to untie her scrub bottoms, but she successfully fought him off, the report says. He instead slid his hand inside her underwear and penetrated her with a finger, records show. She was able to pull his hand away several times, notes the report, but he would re-enter her pants, violating her repeatedly.
The nurse eventually escaped the purported attack — she says she doesn't remember how — and reported the incident the next day to the hospital's human resources department, according to police.
Mr. Henderson was arrested and charged with sexual assault on December 28, 2012, but a grand jury ruled 3 months later that there was insufficient evidence to send him to trial, according to Melody McDonald, public information officer for the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney's Office.
North Hills denied the nurse's request for transfer to another facility in the Hospital Corporation of America health system, according to the lawsuit. She was fired on April 30, 2013, notes the lawsuit.
The nurse accuses the hospital of failing to address Mr. Henderson's history of sexual inappropriateness with other female employees, failing to act promptly on her complaint and failing to maintain its "zero tolerance" sexual harassment policy.
"Hospitals are required to protect their caregivers from sexual harassment, and my client fears sexual harassment like this adversely affects patient care," says Jason Smith, attorney for the alleged victim. He adds that his client looks forward to telling her story and asking a jury for justice.
A North Hills spokesman says the hospital takes any concerns raised by a former employee very seriously, but cannot comment on the specifics of the case.
Mr. Henderson could not be reached for comment. He is no longer employed at North Hills, but the hospital's spokesman did not reveal when or why he left. It is the policy of Outpatient Surgery to conceal the identity of alleged victims of sexual abuse.
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