MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – A former Coliseum Medical Center nurse filed a federal sexual harassment lawsuit against the hospital and a former supervisor.
In the lawsuit, Tracey Mitchum alleges the hospital was negligent in its training, supervision, and employee retention policies.
According to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia on July 9, Mitchum was hired in October 2011. A few months later, the lawsuit says David Rutland, a supervisory co-worker, asked her out on a date. Mitchum agreed and they began a romantic relationship until she found out Rutland was married. She ended the relationship and asked Rutland to leave her alone.
The lawsuit alleges Rutland began harassing her, threatened her job by stating, "I will have your job," and touched her inappropriately. Mitchum went to her immediate supervisor to find out what to do to handle the situation, but she was discouraged from formally reporting the matter, the lawsuit states.
For several months, Mitchum claims she received numerous unwelcomed advances and threats. She alleges she was denied a career promotion after Rutland intervened because she refused to continue a sexual relationship, the lawsuit says.
Mitchum met with hospital leaders in August 2012 to discuss the alleged sexual harassment, threats, and insults. In September, Mitchum reached out to higher hospital leaders to inform them of the alleged sexually harassing conduct. Meanwhile, she claims the sexual harassment continued and the hospital did nothing about it. She was then suspended.
On September 20 Mitchum was fired. She claims "no good or justifiable cause existed to suspend or fire" her. The lawsuit alleges the "true and real reason for the Plantiff's suspension and termination was her complaints regarding unlawful sexual harassment."
Mitchum's attorney Harlan Miller says she was suspended and terminated because she complained to hospital management.
The discrimination laws protect whistle blowers who complain about sexual discrimination or racial discrimination, whatever the case may be," Miller said. "Employers can't go around and fire people because they complain about being discriminated against or being harassed and that's exactly what happened here."
After her termination, Mitchum alleges the hospital put a picture of her on the wall of a common corridor stating, "Tracy Mitchum, former employee. If you see her in the hospital, report it to security immediately."
The lawsuit claims the hospital was aware of Rutland's history of sexually harassing conduct but chose to keep him as an employee. It alleges Coliseum had a duty to "exercise ordinary care in training and supervising of Mr. Rutland and ensuring that he did not have a tendency or propensity to engage in inappropriate and sexually harassing conduct toward Ms. Mitchum and other employees."
The hospital released the following statement saying,
Coliseum Medical Centers takes complaints of this nature very seriously, and we have a number of processes in place to protect our employees and maintain a healthy work environment. We are in the process of reviewing the recently filed complaint, which includes outrageous allegations against the hospital, and we will defend ourselves vigorously.
Mitchum is also claiming emotional distress and battery.
She's asking for compensatory and punitive damages, attorney's fees, and prejudgment interest. She also wants her job back, according to the lawsuit.