A Los Angeles jury has awarded a former UCLA oncologist $13 million in damages in a gender discrimination case. Dr. Lauren Pinter-Brown claimed that while she was working at UCLA, she was subjected to harsher treatment than her male colleagues and that when she did complain about her treatment, her employer retaliated against her.
The jury agreed, awarding $3 million in economic damages and $10 million in non-economic damages against UCLA. This recent decision highlights the need for thorough training about workplace discrimination and uniform reporting and investigation procedures for following up on discrimination complaints.
In the case at hand, Dr. Pinter-Brown worked for ten years at UCLA’s lymphoma program. She brought claims of gender and age discrimination arising out of her experiences as a researcher performing clinical trial work. At least one other physician berated her work, she claimed. Dr. Pinter-Brown also alleged she was often called a “diva,” an “angry woman,” and was told, “everyone hates you.” At one point during an argument with a male colleague, Dr. Pinter-Brown alleged that she feared for her safety. During her tenure, Dr. Pinter-Brown said she was the only female and the male-dominated administration ignored her complaints about discrimination. Dr. Pinter-Brown claimed she was forced to quit and work at another research institute because of the unfair treatment.
Dr. Pinter-Brown also brought a claim for retaliation. She alleged that after she complained about the treatment she received, she was targeted in audits, her research privileges were suspended, and her title was stricken. Dr. Pinter-Brown also claimed her reputation was permanently harmed by the discrimination she suffered. She made verbal and written complaints, which she said UCLA ignored.
After hearing from both parties, the jury awarded damages for loss of earnings as a result of the discrimination and Dr. Pinter-Brown having to leave UCLA. The jury also awarded damages for the emotional distress Dr. Pinter-Brown suffered as a result of the discrimination.
This case demonstrates how, if complaints are not addressed seriously and promptly, an employment issue that could have been solved, can instead get out of hand and result in significant liability.
For more information on gender discrimination in the California workplace, contact experienced attorney Drew E. Pomerance today.