Mount Sinai Hospital Sued for Sex Discrimination

Mount Sinai Hospitals Group Inc. is being sued by a longtime, female employee for gender discrimination because of a supervisor who, she claims, discriminated against her and all the female employees in her department.

Joette Phoenix began working for Mount Sinai in 1997, according to the complaint. In 2017 Christopher Palamara assumed a supervisory role with regard to Phoenix and immediately began treating her and other female employees less favorably than the male coworkers.

Phoenix claims that Palamara told her and the other women in their department that their jobs were not secure, but his and all the male coworkers’ jobs were. He told her, “I want you girls doing the guys’ portion of the cleaning work because girls are supposed to do the cleaning.” She also claims he specifically stated that he wanted to “get rid of all of the females” in the department.

In addition, Palamara timed the female employees when they used the restroom, but left the male employees alone. He instructed other female employees to check on their coworkers in the bathroom.

Phoenix claims she complained to her union, another supervisor, and the human resources department about Palamara’s behavior but no action was taken.

In June 2017, Palamara assaulted and battered Phoenix and made threats against her, according to the complaint. She notified security who said they could not do anything about it. She also filed a police report. As a result of the assault, Phoenix claims she was emotionally disturbed and needed to take some time off of work so called in sick for two days at the end of June.

Phoenix also requested “a reasonable accommodation under the [Americans with Disabilities Act] (ADA) and time off under the [Family Medical Leave Act] (FMLA),” according to the complaint.

Phoenix claims that when she went back to work on July 1, 2017 she “was immediately suspended without pay by [Palamara] because of her gender and in retaliation for her numerous complaints about [him].” She reported back to work on July 7 after a union representative informed her that she could do so. Palamara “immediately retaliated against [her] by giving her extra work, rubbing up against her and following her to the restroom,” the complaint states.

After again taking a couple of sick days due to her being distraught by Palamara’s behavior and again asking for an ADA accommodation and FMLA leave, Phoenix was “wrongfully and unlawfully terminated . . . because of her sex/gender, and in retaliation for her complaints of discrimination and . . . requests for a reasonable accommodation under the ADA and for time off under the FMLA,” the complaint states.

Phoenix is represented by Abraham Melamed of New York City who filed the case in the Southern District of New York.