Tayeb Hyderally is an attorney whose expertise is in the area of employment law. One of the primary reasons he pursued this particular area of the law was the diverse types of cases and situations that could be presented under the topic. Ty Hyderally makes it his business to keep both employees and employers informed on their legal rights and responsibilities regarding employment law. He is very well respected in this field as he has had years of successful litigation for his clients. One interesting case which has captured the attention of those who practice employment and discrimination lawis Chopourian v Catholic Healthcare West.
There are several very interesting facts about this particular case. For one thing, it is the largest sexual harassment case that involved only one plaintiff. The plaintiff’s reward was also extremely high for these types of cases; and there are several distinct areas of employment law that were directly violated. In the end, the jury sided with the plaintiff and awarded Ms. Chopourian $168 million in damages and for lost wages. They agreed that she had been a victim of sexual harassment as well as retaliation.
Ani Chopourian is a cardiac surgery physician assistant. She cited several specific incidents that occurred while she was at work where she felt she had been the target of bullying and sexual harassment. On one occasion, one surgeon purposefully stabbed her with a needle. A different surgeon would call her “stupid chick” while working with her in the operating room. One surgeon greeted her each morning with a pat on the bottom and the comment, “I’m horny.” She felt her work place had become a hostile environment.
On top of the bullying and sexual harassment, she was ridiculed for her Armenian heritage. She was teasingly asked if she had joined with Al Qaeda on many occasions. And she had also been denied meal breaks which were in violation of wage and hour laws set forth by the state of California. The jury sided with Chopourian, possibly due to the fact that there were several former employees of Catholic Healthcare West who testified to similar abuses that occurred while they were employed at the facility. Ms. Chopourian was likely a target of retaliation as well. After she filed her complaints, it was less than a week that the company terminated her.
The hospital continues to deny the severity of the allegations. However, the jury awarded Ms. Chopourian $125 million for punitive damages as well as $42.5 million in lost wages and for mental anguish. These dollar amounts are large for this type of case. Perhaps it is due to the violation of so many types of employment laws.
The jury’s verdict in this case is a stark reminder that even in healthcare environments where roles such as cardiac surgeons are generally highly respected; there is no place for this type of gross misbehavior. Employment laws are in place to protect all employees regardless of their field of work. Those employers and employers in highly respected positions are subject to all of the same policies regarding discrimination in the workplace.