Crazy things were going on at the Encino Hospital Medical Center. Its Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Muhammad Anwar, had an affair with a hospital supervisor, Hershee Cajigal.
Who spilled the beans on this affair? None other than Hershee Cajigal. And not only did Cajigal relate intimate details of her relationship to her co-workers, including Plaintiff Vilma Dinham, the Chief Nursing Officer, she also told her colleagues she had the power to get them fired!
As a responsible employer would hope, Dinham reported the sexual harassment to the CEO, Robert C. Bills. So Mr. Bills counseled Cajigal about this inappropriate behavior, testing whether Cajigal really had the power to have colleagues terminated.
Mr. Bills found out. Dr. Anwar ordered Mr. Bills to terminate or demote Dinham. But Mr. Bills refused. And so Dr. Anwar convinced his buddy, Dr. Prem Reddy, Chairman, President and CEO (and who was shockingly named one of the “50 Most Influential Physician Executives in Health Care” by Modern Healthcare magazine) to fire Mr. Bills.
And so Dr. Reddy fired Mr. Bills, like any “influential physician executive” who ignored common sense and decency and the law would.
And guess what happened then? Prime fired Vilma Dinham. But that was due a reduction in force, not because she reported sexual harassment. Ok! (The Great “RIF” Excuse!)
What happened to Cajigal, Dr. Anwar’s loose-lipped paramour? Well, she was promoted. She was inaugurated as Corporate Director of Respiratory Services. I suppose there were no RIF’s there. And her loose lips didn’t sink her ship.
But all of this craziness didn’t sit well with the Van Nuys jury. Prime didn’t do anything right. They fired the good guys and promoted the bad guys.
What amazes me is why defendant wanted to try this case with all the sordid details. I don’t know if Prime ever seriously tried to settle this case, but if it didn’t then it learned a big lesson. Or, it should have learned a big lesson. When you’re dealing with highly educated and sophisticated people like the Dr.’s Reddy and Anwar who engaged in this despicable behavior, I’m not too sure they learn lessons. But perhaps Dr. Reddy’s no longer one of the “50 Most Influential Physician Executives in Health Care” anymore. But if he is, that’s not good!