Suit: Hospital housekeeper fired after reporting security guard's harassment

David Yates Jan. 28, 2008, 9:19am

Sexually harassed by a security guard, Cynthia Isaac immediately reported the incident to her employer, Hospital Housekeeping Systems LTD. The next day she was fired for returning late on her lunch break.

Isaac claims she was wrongly terminated for reporting the sexual harassment incident and has filed suit against HHS and Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital. Her suit was filed in the Jefferson County District Court on Jan. 25.

Isaac, who has already filed a complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division, has been given permission by the TWCCRD to pursue civil action.

According to the plaintiff's petition, Isaac worked as housekeeper at Christus St. Elizabeth from June 2, 2006, through June 14, 2006, less than two weeks.

On June 10, 2006, a Christus security guard walked up from behind Isaac and asked her what time she got home … "and then stated to her, in a suggestive and inappropriate manner, that he was 'watching her.' He held out his hand to touch her face and asked to see (her) mouth," the suit said.

In her suit, Isaac says she slapped his hand away from her face and immediately reported the incident of sexual harassment to the HHS supervisor on duty.

Isaac explained the incident to her HHS supervisors, who allegedly began to accuse her of fabricating the incident and attempted to persuade her not to follow through with her complaint.

"Later in Plaintiff's shift, she rested at her lunch break … due to the stress that she had been through…," the suit said. "She returned slightly late from her lunch break and she explained the circumstances to the individual with whom she was to check-in. She was advised that it was OK and was sent to her assigned duties. Indeed, upon information and belief, other employees were late arriving to work or from returning from their lunch breaks without any disciplinary actions toward them."

The following day, Isaac was called into a meeting with her supervisors, who told her that she was late from a lunch break and accused her of sleeping in her car. She explained that was not true as she did not drive a car to work, but was dropped off by her husband. She acknowledged that she had returned late from her lunch break due to stress and then closing her eyes and briefly falling asleep, the suit said.

"(Isaac's) HHS supervisor told her that she should have lied about it," the suit said.

"As her HHS supervisor was in the process of disengaging from the conversation and walking away, Plaintiff (said) to him that their conduct toward her was happening due to her … sexual harassment complaint. Immediately after Plaintiff's statement, Plaintiff's HHS supervisor told her that she was 'fired.'"

Isaac contends Christus negligently hired the security guard, had a duty to properly hire and train its employees and is faulting the hospital with premise liability.

She is charging HHS with wrongful termination charges.

"Plaintiff was intentionally discriminated against because of her gender in that she was subject to a hostile work environment and sexually harassed due to her gender and was retaliated against in her discharge due to her opposition to such unlawful conduct," the suit said. "The Defendants are jointly and severally liable for such actions and for damages."

Isaac is suing for punitive, actual and compensatory damages, plus all court costs.

She is represented by Ian Scharfman of the Scharfman Law Firm.

The case has been assigned to Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th Judicial District.

Case No. D181-120

More News