Two health professionals allege they faced retaliation at a Lansing clinic after reporting sexual harassment from an osteopathic medical doctor.
Nurse practitioner Alexis Phillips and Dr Sarah Denham have filed discrimination complaints with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, asking for the right to sue in federal court, according to their lawyers.
This is after they said they were frequently harassed by Dr. Joseph Kozlowski while working alongside him at Kozmic Family Practice, part of Capital Internal Medicine Associates.
This included making sexually inappropriate comments, sometimes in the presence of other staff members, Phillips said. And she said Kozlowski grabbed her twice by the belt buckle while making vulgar comments about her body.
Phillips said Kozlowski first made an inappropriate remark to her when she was a student in 2018, but when she pointed out her increasing conduct in 2021, the reaction was not reassuring.
“I would like to be able to provide quality health care to my patients without having to protect them from sexual harassment every time they come for treatment,” Phillips said. “I’m scared to come to work, because I don’t know what’s going to happen. But whatever happens, I know my employer doesn’t support me.”
After Phillips and Denham complained about Kozlowksi’s conduct, Dr. Amit Ghose threatened to close the clinic, and nurse practitioner Kristal Richardson-Aubrey later suggested that Phillips could change locations if she felt unwell. comfortable working alongside Kozlowski, Phillips said at a news conference on Tuesday.
After learning that Phillips and Denham had acquired legal representation, CIMA announced in January this year that Kozlowski planned to retire, Phillips said. He continued to see patients in their homes and on telehealth visits until April 2022, according to Phillips.
A CIMA spokesperson said Kozlowski had not been employed by the organization since March, but declined to comment on the circumstances of his departure, citing “labour law and ongoing litigation.”
“We are confident that CIMA management has taken the necessary and appropriate steps to create and maintain a safe and compliant workplace,” the statement said. “We look forward to defending ourselves in the appropriate venue against these charges. Going forward, we will continue to ensure access to quality healthcare for the thousands of patients our professionals see around Lansing each year.”
Kozlowski did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Denham and Phillips are still employed by the healthcare system.
“I’m exhausted at the start of the day going to work for people who don’t care about my mental or physical safety,” Phillips said.