Dignity Health to pay record $167M in harassment suit

Sacramento, Calif.-based Mercy General Hospital and its parent, formerly known as Catholic Healthcare West (now Dignity Health), will pay more than $167 million to a former physician's assistant for alleged retaliation and wrongful termination, the Sacramento Bee reported.

The $125 million in punitive damages and $42.7 million for lost wages and mental suffering may be the largest award for a single victim of workplace harassment in U.S. history, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Ani Chopourian complained of sexually inappropriate conduct, bullying and retaliation, in addition to inferior patient care by surgeons, noted the Sacramento Bee.

According to Chopourian, Mercy General fired her for failing to report to work on a day she was on call, even though she was never told she was needed. The hospital, however, said it fired her for professional misconduct.

Despite the ruling, Mercy General defends firing the former PA and plans to appeal the verdict, the LA Times noted.

"We are committed to providing a safe working environment, free from sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior," Denny Powell, president of Mercy General, said in a statement yesterday. "Any complaint is thoroughly investigated and prompt action is taken. We do not believe that the facts support this verdict or judgment," he said.

To learn more:
- read the Sacramento Bee article
- here's the LA Times article