Judge awards former Advocate Christ Medical Center physician $1M over unfair termination

A Chicago jury awarded $1 million to a physician who claimed he was unlawfully terminated after reporting sexual harassment incidents that occurred at Oak Lawn, Ill.-based Advocate Christ Medical Center, according to the Chicago Tribune.

A jury ruled in favor of Brett Ohlfs, MD, a former emergency physician at the hospital. In lawsuit filed in 2013, Dr. Ohlfs claimed the hospital fired him in retaliation after he reported concerns that a fellow attending physician was sexually harassing female residents, according to the article. Dr. Ohlfs said he was concerned because the attending physician maintained authority over the residents, including whether or not the residents would become licensed physicians.

A former supervisor and two of the hospital's human resources managers also reportedly filed their own lawsuit against Dr. Ohlfs, alleging he illegally taped conversations he had with them without their knowledge or consent. The lawsuit was later voluntarily dismissed, according to the article.

Lisa Lesniak, a spokesperson for the hospital, said in a statement that the hospital investigated Dr. Ohlfs' claims when he brought the matter to their attention five years ago. Investigators determined no further action on the issue was necessary. Dr. Ohlfs' supervisor and the attending physician accused of harassment are still employed by the hospital, according to Ms. Lesniak.

ACMC officials said they have protocols in place to handle sexual abuse allegations. Officials said they did not fire Dr. Ohlfs in retaliation, but for "legitimate, non-retaliatory" purposes, according to the article.

Dr. Ohlfs said the verdict will help his family adjust to their new lives in California. Dr. Ohlfs is now an emergency physician at Redding, Calif.-based ShastaRegionalMedicalCenter.

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