GALVESTON - Asserting a gender-based double standard led to her termination from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston last year, a Galveston County woman has filed suit against the 120-year-old medical institution.

Nicole Petteway says UTMB dismissed her from her position as a registered nurse in February 2008 because of the school's alleged disparate treatment of her.

According to Petteway, a male co-worker with whom she had a casual relationship with filed a sexual harassment complaint against her in an effort to save himself from discipline.

Court papers, which were filed Aug. 24 in Galveston County District Court, show their affair was not an issue at work until the plaintiff was confronted by another woman, who was apparently the accuser's significant other.

Petteway states she then severed ties with the male co-worker, but soon found herself the target of sexual harassment allegations.

She met with her superiors and agreed to distance herself from the complainant.

It is reported that the co-worker disrupted Petteway in the midst of her duties, creating a scene.

"While the plaintiff was performing her assignment for the defendant, the male approached the plaintiff and engaged in a loud discussion on the floor," the suit says.

"The man stated loudly so that the others could hear.....'leave me the (expletive) alone.' The plaintiff had not taken any action to approach him and/or undertake any action in violation of workplace rules."

UTMB fired Petteway, but spared the man.

"The plaintiff was terminated. The male employee was not," the suit says. "It is the plaintiff's belief that her treatment was disparate in nature in that the rules of discipline were applied unequally to the female worker than the male worker."

"Such disparate treatment is inconsistent with Texas law and is deemed illegal."

Consequently, Petteway seeks back pay and lost wages, attorney's fees, and a judgment declaring UTMB discriminated against her because of her sex.

Galveston attorney Anthony P. Griffin is representing the plaintiff, and Galveston County 10th District Court Judge David Garner is presiding over the case.

Case No. 09CV1537

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