Former Iowa medical center director sues, claims hospital permitted gender discrimination

Alia Paavola - Print  | 

A former radiology director at Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Mercy Medical Center has sued the hospital, alleging Mercy permitted gender discrimination and unequal pay, according to The Gazette. 

Jennifer McDowell, who served in her role for nearly two years, claims in the lawsuit that Mercy allowed her male colleagues to "undermine, disrespect and demean" her based on her gender. She also asserts that she was fired in retaliation for bringing up gender discrimination claims and pointing out a pay discrepancy.

Some of the gender discrimination issues cited in the lawsuit include that during the initial interview before she was hired, Ms. McDowell was asked several gender-based questions, including whether she had children and if her husband would move with her if she was given the job.

The lawsuit also claims that Ms. McDowell was paid $30 per hour less than her male colleague, despite having more responsibilities and oversight of five departments, compared to her colleague's four.

Ms. McDowell's supervisor reportedly told her that the pay discrepancy was a result of them having different titles. The lawsuit asserts that Ms. McDowell's position and that of her colleagues had the same job description and they were at the same seniority level.

Ms. McDowell, who was hired in 2016, was fired in August 2018 for conduct she said she never was warned about. Details of the alleged misconduct were not disclosed in the lawsuit.

Mercy Medical spokesperson Karen Vander Sanden told the Gazette that the hospital firmly denies the claims.

"Mercy has a long history of commitment to providing a respectful, inclusive and equal workplace, including providing fair compensation and benefits regardless of gender," she said.

Ms. McDowell is seeking past and future wages, damages for emotional distress and attorney fees. 

Read the full report here.

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