A federal jury in Virginia awarded $4,050,000 on Tuesday to a woman
who claimed her former employer, Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center, Inc., unlawfully
retaliated against her.
The jury awarded $1,050,000 in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive
damages to Stephanie Denninghoff, who says she was forced to resign from her
position as director of operative services following her attempts to prevent
sexual harassment in the hospital's operating rooms and facility, according
to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed the lawsuit on behalf
In the lawsuit, the agency says Denninghoff responded to complaints about a
nurse's hugging, kissing, embracing and rubbing doctors and other staff members.
Denninghoff, in her capacity as the nurse's supervisor, with the involvement
of human resources, verbally warned the nurse about this behavior being inappropriate,
according to the EEOC.
Following the nurse's counseling, the the nurse complained to doctors and staff
members about being treated unfairly, threatened to quit and ultimately did
so, the EEOC says.
Several doctors complained to management about Denninghoff's role in addressing
this behavior and one prominent doctor threatened to remove his business from
DePaul Hospital unless she was terminated and the nurse brought back to the
hospital, according to the lawsuit.
Denninghoff says she was asked to resign her position or be terminated, allegedly
for a "breach of confidentiality." She resigned and then filed a complaint
with the agency.
Federal statute limits the amount of recovery for compensatory and punitive
damages to $300,000 for an employer the size of DePaul Hospital. The court will
later determine the amount of any back-pay or front-pay award Denninghoff is
entitled to in addition to the compensatory and punitive damages.