Former Coliseum nurse files federal sexual harassment lawsuit; hospital vows strong legal fight

awomack@macon.comJuly 16, 2013 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified one of the defendants in a complaint filed by a former Coliseum Medical Centers nurse. Below is the corrected version.

A former Coliseum Medical Centers nurse has filed a federal sexual harassment lawsuit against the hospital and a hospital employee.

In the lawsuit, Tracy Mitchum alleges the hospital was negligent in its training, supervision and employee retention policies.

Mitchum was hired in October 2011 and was approached the following April by a the employee who romantically pursued her and asked for a date. Mitchum agreed, and the two began a consensual relationship, according to the lawsuit filed July 9 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.

A few months later, when Mitchum learned the man was married, she tried to end the relationship, said Harlan Miller, Mitchum’s Atlanta attorney.

“The guy wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Miller said.

The lawsuit details allegations of the man groping and attempting to kiss her at work, harassing her with phone calls and making other sexual advances. She also alleges he threatened her job if she didn’t resume having sex with him.

The hospital issued a statement about the lawsuit late Tuesday, promising to fight the allegations in court.

“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,” the hospital said in the statement. “We are in the process of reviewing the recently filed complaint, which includes outrageous allegations against the hospital, and we will defend ourselves vigorously.”

A few days after the alleged harassment began, Mitchum alleges in the lawsuit that she asked her immediate supervisor how to handle the situation and was discouraged from filing a formal report.

In August 2012, Mitchum met with her immediate supervisor again but was reprimanded and suspended from work. She alleges the discipline was in retaliation for reporting the alleged harassment.

Mitchum notified hospital leadership of the alleged harassment beginning in August, but the calls and physical advances continued into September, according to the lawsuit. She was fired Sept. 20.

Miller said the worst part of the case is that hospital management knew what was going on and “decided the easiest way (to handle the situation) was to fire this woman.”

After her firing, the hospital posted a photo of Mitchum on the wall of a common corridor, labeling her as a former employee and instructing staff to report her presence to security if she was spotted inside the hospital, according to the lawsuit.

Attempts to reach the man in Mitchum's complaint for comment were unsuccessful Tuesday.

Mitchum is requesting compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees and pre-judgement interest. Among other things, she wants to be reinstated to her former job, according to the lawsuit.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

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