Second health center leader steps down for mishandling of sexual harassment, bullying complaints

Female nurse looking stressed
The chairman of the board of directors at Fenway Community Health Center in Boston has resigned after reports center leaders mishandled sexual harassment complaints against a doctor. (Getty/gpointstudio)

The mishandling of sexual harassment complaints at a Boston health clinic has led to the resignation of another top leader.

Robert H. Hale, who served as chair of the Fenway Community Health Center’s Board of Directors, stepped down on Monday, according to a statement released by the health center.

He is the second leader at the health center forced out after a Boston Globe investigation reported that top leaders failed to act when they learned about complaints of sexual harassment and bullying made by staff members against a prominent doctor who worked at the center.

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On Sunday, Fenway’s chief executive, Stephen L. Boswell, who headed the center for 20 years, resigned under pressure following the newspaper investigation into allegations against a former doctor at the center, Harvey J. Makadon, M.D.

“We appreciate [Hale's] service and his tireless work on behalf of Fenway Health,” the statement said.

RELATED: Sexual abuse scandals—What hospitals can learn from high-profile Hollywood, government cases of harassment

The newspaper reported that Makadon allegedly harassed and bullied staff members and even after a complaint was filed in 2013 with the center’s human resources department, he was not forced to resign until last spring.

The board of directors learned of the allegations against Makadon in January 2017, the newspaper said. Despite the problems, they renewed Boswell’s contract as chief executive.

Fenway, which specializes in providing healthcare for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients, was under pressure from the LGBT community to replace Hale as head of the board.

The Boston-based LGBT newspaper Bay Windows called for the resignations of both Boswell and Hale in an editorial Sunday. “Times have changed. Sexual harassment in the workplace is unacceptable. And so is covering up for it,” the editorial said.

The two health leaders’ resignations come amidst weeks of media attention focused on the accusations of sexual misconduct among Hollywood heavy hitters, television personalities, business leaders and politicians that have cost many their jobs.

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