Firing Over Boob-Grab Offer Supports Lawsuit

     (CN) – It may have been discriminatory for a hospital to fire the nurse who agreed to give his co-worker Vicodin if she let him touch her breast, an Ohio appeals court ruled.
     Matthew Caiazza and food services worker Jennifer Jones often took smoke breaks together when they worked at Mercy Medical Center.
     In 2010, Jones reported to her supervisor that Caiazza had touched her breast outside of her clothing. Police came to investigate.
     Caiazza explained that Jones had offered him the chance to touch her in exchange for the painkiller Vicodin. He said that when he did not have Vicodin, she allowed him to touch her breast anyway.
     Jones also allegedly waited to report the incident until Caizza told her that he loved his wife and could not be in a relationship with Jones.
     Caiazza forcibly resigned from the hospital at the request of Lorraine Washington, who was the human resources director at the time.
     He was also charged with gross sexual imposition and pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct.
     Caiazza sued Mercy, Jones and several other hospital employees for breach of contract, fraud, sexual harassment, and aiding and abetting discrimination, among other claims.
     The trial court ruled in favor of the defendants, but the Canton-based Fifth Appellate District revived the claims of aiding and abetting discrimination against Mercy and Washington, as well as sexual discrimination against Washington.
     Washington’s deposition proved relevant to this finding. She had said that when Caiazza “admitted to touching her breasts, albeit by invitation, I did not – my statement was ‘Well, we’re done here. The employee has admitted to what he did; that’s inappropriate in our environment. We’re done.'”
     Writing for a three-judge appellate panel, Judge Sheila Farmer said, “Ms. Washington admitted that both appellant and appellee Jones had drawn the hospital into their sexual contact encounter, no action was taken against the female employee, appellee Jones, and a subsequent investigation was not done.”
     Caiazza also complained that Mercy did not fire a female employee who also pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct after she was arrested on drug-related charges.
     “Given appellee Mercy’s concession that the sexual contact during appellant’s smoke break off property was consensual, there is a clear disparity of treatment between appellant and appellee Jones,” Farmer wrote.

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