2010-07-12 / Front Page

Former employee sues Novant

By TIM GULLA Ledger Staff Writer tim@gaffneyledger.com

A male nurse manager has filed a gender discrimination and breach of contract lawsuit against Novant Healthcare in Cherokee County Court of Common Pleas, arguing he lost his job because he was a man working in a “predominantly female work environment.”

Todd Hamrick, a resident of Rutherfordton, N.C., says in the lawsuit he was employed by Novant Health Care between June 25, 2001, until Feb. 11, 2010, as director of surgery.

While the lawsuit does not state exactly where he worked, Novant Healthcare took over ownership of Upstate Carolina Medical Center and the lawsuit states Novant owns property and transacts business in Cherokee County.

In the lawsuit, Hamrick contends that a female coworker presented him and another co-worker with birthday presents one day, one of them a cup shaped like a woman’s breast and the other a pacifier shaped like a male organ.

“Plaintiff embarrassed accepted the gift and immediately placed (it) back into its bag,” the suit states. “Plaintiff realized it was inappropriate but did not immediately reprimand coemployee as it was not plaintiff’s practices to discipline employees in public.”

The suit claims the same worker gave another employee an inappropriate birthday gift — a necklace that appeared to be in the shape of a male organ — and Hamrick immediately told the employee to remove it.

The suit claims Hamrick spoke with the employee several days later and told her the gifts were inappropriate, that some people could be offended, and never to do it again.

The following week, however, Hamrick claims he was called into an office and informed he was being terminated based on how he managed the situation. The suit claims Hamrick was allowed to resign in lieu of termination.

The suit claims no “reasonable person” in his position should have been terminated for the inappropriate actions of someone else. The suit further claims the female employee who passed out the gifts was only suspended.

Hamrick is seeking unspecified actual and punitive damages as well as front pay in lieu of reinstatement.

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