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Chicago Employment Lawyer Says Gender Violence Still Exists

Feb 16, 2012

Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) February 15, 2012 – In this case, the court rendered a decision that the Gender Violence Act could not be retroactively applied.

“The alleged sexual assault and battery committed in this case in 2004 was perpetrated by Dr. Long Han. The original case went to appeal on the issue of whether or not violations of the Gender Violence Act (740 ILCS 82/1 et seq. (West 2004)) could be retroactively applied. The appeal court decided the Act may ‘not’ be retroactively applied,” explained Timothy Coffey, a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace.

The details of this case are rather disturbing as it appears the employer negotiated to help the doctor hide his history of violence committed against patients and female co-workers. The doctor was an anesthesiologist and worked for the University of Chicago in the department of anesthesia and critical care. He was employed there from 1989 to 1999. Over that time, the university was made aware of six allegations of gender-related violence and sexual harassment complaints.

The university acted on those allegations by signing a confidentiality agreement with Dr. Han, and had him tender his resignation in return for the university not telling anyone about the complaints. This agreement also included a pre-written letter of reference written by the university for the doctor to present to prospective employers. It did not mention the sexual harassment allegations.

Dr. Han took his letter of reference and applied to MacNeal Hospital. The chair of the credentials committee asked the university for an honest and candid written appraisal of the doctor, with particular regard to his clinical abilities, his ability to work with others and his character and ethics. The request specifically asked whether or not there was any reason to be cautious in granting Dr. Han staff privileges. The letter the hospital got in reply did not mention sexual harassment.

Han was granted staff privileges and retained them until December 2004. In December 2004 a nursing intern, on an obstetrical rotation, was under Han’s direct supervision. The plaintiff nurse said the doctor asked her to his private office to discuss material related to her master’s studies. He slid his hand under her bra and touched her without permission or her consent. She left the office immediately. The nurse filed an amended complaint against Han, MacNeal, and the university to obtain compensation as a result of the sexual assault.

Her original court case had six counts. Count six alleged a cause of action against the defendant for violations of the Gender Violence Act. In summary, the act offers victims a right of action against the individual who committed the act and against those who encouraged or assisted the acts. (740 ILCS 82/5, 10 (West 2004).

Count six further stated that the defendant university covered up the doctor’s acts and the allegations by: signing the confidentiality agreement; not telling MacNeal Hospital about his history; not disciplining him; not insisting he receive treatment and accepting his resignation in exchange for not telling anyone about the sexual harassment complaints.

In the original court action, the defendant said count six was asking for something that could not be done – a retroactive application of the Act. The defendant stated all the alleged acts that violated the Act happened in 1999 prior to the Act going into effect in January 2004. The plaintiff appealed. In the final analysis, the appeals court upheld the verdict of the circuit court, in that the Act may not be retroactively applied.

In cases like this, a plaintiff needs the experienced counsel of a Chicago employment lawyer. Attempting to navigate the waters of such a complex subject without legal counsel would be a daunting move. A Chicago employment lawyer is the voice for the plaintiff who needs justice.

Timothy Coffey is a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace. To learn more or to contact a Chicago employment attorney, visit Employmentlawcounsel.com.

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