A fired hospital technician claims she was the victim of sexist and anti-Semitic taunts while working at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
Sandra Morris, 37, has sued the Manhattan medical center and two of her former supervisors for creating a hostile work environment, according to a lawsuit filed July 31 in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.
"Miss Morris experienced mistreatment in the workplace that no employee should have to experience," said Morris' lawyer, Steven Warshawsky. "She's bringing this lawsuit to vindicate her legal rights and to ensure other employees are not subjected to same type of misconduct."
Morris worked as a cardiovascular perfusionist at Mount Sinai for nearly five years, during which time she claims her supervisors, cardiovascular perfusionist Ahmed Cercioglu and cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Ricardo Lazala, discriminated against her because of her gender and religion.
According to the suit, Morris "was told several times by Mr. Lazala and Mr. Cercioglu that she cannot work on [some] cases because she doesn't have a 'dick.'" And in July 2010, Cercioglu allegedly called Morris a "dumb Jew bitch" in front of other employees.
"Many of the incidents and issues alleged in the complaint were witnessed by other employees," said Warshawsky, adding that "several" co-workers would be called as witnesses in the case.
The suit also accuses Cercioglu of watching X-rated movies on his cell phone while operating the heart-lung machine – a pump that keeps heart patients alive during bypass surgery.
"This was so commonplace that other perfusionists routinely joked about his behavior," according to the suit.
Calls to Cercioglu and Lazala were not immediately returned. A spokesman for Mount Sinai declined to comment on the allegations because of the pending litigation, but said in a statement that the hospital "maintains strong policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment in the workplace and does not tolerate behavior that violates these policies. Mount Sinai is confident that Ms. Morris will not prevail on her claims."
Morris also claims she was paid less than what she was owed for overtime work, and is requesting back pay, compensatory damages for emotional pain and suffering and attorney's fees. She is not challenging the hospital's decision to end her employment, which came as no surprise after six months of unpaid leave for an on-the-job injury, according to Warshawsky.
"That's not the issue in this case," he said. "The issue is workplace mistreatment and mismanagement."