A New Jersey Superior Court judge has issued a ruling that will allow a sexual harassment suit filed against Englewood Hospital and Medical Center to proceed. The suit, which had been challenged by the hospital's attempt to have the case dismissed, is based on claims brought forward by the hospital's marketing director Maria Margiotta. The hospital's dismissal attempt was denied, however, at a hearing on August 9, 2013, after a judge found that Margiotta "raised genuine issues of material fact" regarding the case.
Margiotta claims that she was sexually harassed by the hospital's former CEO and President Douglas Duchak. Margiotta's allegations specify that Duchak began harassing her by making inappropriate comments in the workplace. Over time, the harassment became more blatant and intolerable. As the harassment progressed, Duchak eventually forcibly kissed Margiotta following a work-related dinner function.
Although Margiotta immediately reported the misconduct to hospital administrators, she claims they did not handle the matter properly. Instead of disciplining Duchak for his behavior, Margiotta claims that she became the victim of retaliatory acts. She also says that the hospital created a hostile work environment by allowing other employees to openly talk about the incident. The hospital disagrees, however, and contends that it quickly demoted Duchak to a lower position with less pay, moved him to a different work location, and forced him to participate in sexual harassment training after learning about the incidents. Furthermore, both parties agree that the harassment stopped after Duchak's demotion.
Judge Susan J. Steele did not agree with the hospital, however, and is allowing the case to continue. In her ruling, Judge Steele stated that she believes that Margiotta provided sufficient evidence to prove that she was the victim of a hostile work environment. Going forward, each party will be given the opportunity to tell his or her side of the story in court.
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