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Friday, July 19, 2024 | Back issues
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Court Revives Worker’s Claims Against Therapist

(CN) - A physical therapist's assistant won partial reinstatement of her claims that her boss massaged her breasts for 45 minutes during an exam, made her tell patients that breast exposure was a "normal procedure," and referred to himself as "the only cock in the henhouse."

Kelly Cox worked at Oasis Physical Therapy Clinic, where she was "pervasively sexually harassed and assaulted" by co-owner Rafat Shirinzadeh, according to her lawsuit.

The Washington Court of Appeals reinstated several claims that the trial court had dismissed as time-barred.

Cox was Shirinzadeh's assistant, but later became his patient after she developed neck pain.

Cox claimed that she was instructed to tell patients that exposing their breasts was "normal procedure," and that Shirinzadeh massaged her breasts for 45 minutes during her third and final therapy session.

Cox said she complained to the other co-owner, Mindi Irvine, who told her to "stop complaining." Irvine also threatened to fire Cox if she continued to spread "gossip," Cox alleged.

Cox added that Shirinzadeh would regularly make sexual comments about other female patients and staff members and would often call himself "the only cock in the henhouse."

One month after writing a letter of complaint to her superiors, Cox was allegedly asked to train her own replacement. Cox said she left the clinic after her hours were reduced.

The trial court said Cox waited too long to sue, but the appeals court reversed on her claims of negligent hiring, retention and supervision; negligent infliction of emotional distress; outrage and intentional infliction of emotional distress; and discrimination based on sex, gender and hostile environment.

However, the appeals court upheld dismissal of Cox's claims for assault and battery; medical negligence; unlawful retaliation; and wrongful discharge.

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