Montreal anesthesiologist sued for alleged sexual harassment
Published Friday, November 10, 2017 12:35PM EST
After years of allegedly receiving sexually explicit texts, photos and unwanted touching, a McGill University Health Centre respiratory therapist is suing a doctor at the Montreal General Hospital for sexual harassment.
The woman, whose name is protected by a court-ordered publication ban, alleges in a lawsuit filed in a Quebec court this week, that anesthesiologist Dr. Richard Robinson harassed her for more than three years.
She alleges in her claim that the harassment began in 2013, when she was 21 and had begun working in the operating room. She says Dr. Robinson found her cellphone number and began sending her inappropriate, sexually-charged texts -- sometimes dozens a day.
The woman says Dr. Robinson sent her inappropriate photos and made lewd suggestions in the workplace, and at one point, he even offered her money for sex.
“I didn't even know who to talk to. I was afraid of being judged and I didn't know how this was going to be perceived. I didn't know what to do,” she told CTV Montreal.
She says she often dreaded the days she would have to work with him.
“I would not only have to worry about the patient's safety but my own wellbeing because I’m there with this person who's making me feel horrible,” she said.
In her suit, the woman says that in 2014, she went to her supervisor to file a complaint. Her court filing indicates Dr. Robinson was told by the hospital to stay away from her. But within months, she says they were being scheduled into surgeries together again and the harassment continued.
She took her case to her union and even to the police, but she says they all let her down. She alleges in her suit she had to seek treatment for depression.
The woman claims that it wasn't until she hired litigator Jean-Pierre Menard to begin a lawsuit that the harassment stopped. But she wonders why it took so long.
“It’s been years this has been going on, it's been years since I’ve tried to fight this in the system,” she said.
Menard, her lawyer, says with over 200 texts and photos and witness corroboration, his client’s case is solid. But he says he doesn’t think her allegations should have ever made their way to his office because they should have been handled within the hospital.
Dr. Robinson did not respond to requests by CTV News for comment. He has also not filed a defence to the claim.
MUHC Spokesperson Gilda Salomone says the hospital can't comment on pending or ongoing legal proceedings, but they maintain they do not tolerate sexual harassment in the workplace.
She says Dr. Robinson, like most physicians, is not an MUHC employee, though he has privileges there in anesthesia and in intensive case. He is currently working only in intensive care at Montreal General Hospital.
The College des medicins du Quebec, which governs physicians in the province, says Dr. Robinson is the subject of a disciplinary complaint and hearings are scheduled to begin soon.
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Denise Roberts