Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession (7)5 May 99

Quick Summary: If a hospital renews a physician’s staff privileges without following up on nurses’ complaints of sexual harassment, and the harassment continues, the nurses have the right to sue the hospital.

   It does not matter whether the physician is an employee of the hospital or an independent contractor with hospital privileges to practice at the hospital.  COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS, 1998.

   Nurses who were sexually harassed by a physician sued their hospital for negligently renewing the physician’s staff privileges despite the hospital’s knowledge of the nurses’ complaints of sexual harassment.

   The Court of Appeals of Texas ruled the nurses had the right to sue.

   The court expressly noted the nurses did not base their lawsuit on Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act or the Texas Human Rights Act. That was because the physician was not the nurses’ employer, nor was he employed by the hospital that employed the nurses.

   Nevertheless, the court ruled it is common-law negligence for a hospital to allow an independent-contractor physician to practice on the premises, knowing he poses a threat to the hospital’s nurses. Bomar v. Walls Regional Hospital, 983 S.W. 2d 834 (Tex. App., 1998).