Surgical Technician Sues M.D. Anderson Over Raunchy Talk in the O.R.
Sheila Gordon, a certified surgical technician, is suing U.T. - M.D. Anderson, claiming that the world-renowned cancer treatment center is a sexually hostile workplace.
According to the suit filed on November 6 by Gordon and attorney Martin A. Shellist, Gordon was placed by an agency at M.D. Anderson in September 2010.
"During her assignment with MDACC, plaintiff Gordon was subjected to a sexually hostile work environment," the suit begins. "By way of example, personnel in the surgical unit, including doctors and nurses, regularly referred to one of the surgical instruments as 'the Johnny Holmes.'"
The suit goes on to describe this instrument as a "long, heavy, right-angle clamp used in urology and thoracic surgery." The suit says that Gordon did not know who Johnny Holmes was, so she innocently posed the question, and it turns out that the device was certainly not named in honor of the former Harris County DA.
University of Houston Cougars Football vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane Football
TicketsSat., Oct. 15, 11:00am
Rice University Owls Football vs. UTSA Roadrunners Football
TicketsSat., Oct. 15, 6:00pm
Rice University Owls Football vs. Prairie View A&M University Football
TicketsSat., Oct. 22, 2:30pm
University of Houston Cougars Football vs. UCF Knights Football
TicketsSat., Oct. 29, 11:00am
"Certain members of the surgical team burst out laughing and informed her that Johnny Holmes was a porno star of note because of the extraordinary size of his penis," the suit continues.
(Heh heh. They said "members.")
"Plaintiff was shocked when she learned that a surgical instrument she regularly handled in the operating room was named after a porn star's phallus," the suit continues in a cold-eyed fury.
And that was not all.
Gordon goes on to portray one of the doctors in the unit as a non-stop font of raunch and smut.
The suit claims that Dr. John Ward "frequently made profane language and made highly sexualized comments during surgery."
(Oh, it happens. My stepmother is a nurse, and she once witnessed a doctor in the O.R. utter the following scintillating repartee: "Nurse Johnson, you look hot today. The only way you could look any hotter than you do right now would be if my dick was in your mouth.")
According to the suit, when apprised of Gordon's misgivings, M.D. Anderson management was blase in the extreme. The suit states that she was essentially told that "Doctors will be doctors," and that she should just deal with it.
Nevertheless, things improved for a time. Gordon spent some time working with other doctors. Then, in February of 2011, she was assigned to Ward's O.R. again. In spite of knowing of her complaints, the suit claims that during an operation Ward asked Gordon repeatedly to hand him his "long Johnny Holmes." Ward then reportedly asked Gordon if she really was offended by the nickname.
Darn straight, Gordon said. She told Ward that she would be reporting him to management again. Undaunted, at least according to the suit, Ward pressed on, continuing to "use lewd language, such as referring to he and another surgeon 'masturbating over a decision.'"
It all rose to a crescendo of filth, the suit contends, when at the end of the surgery, Ward mentioned Gordon's "big booty' and said that he intended to walk around 'buck naked' all weekend.
Gordon complained again. A manager told her she should have just looked away. Turn the other cheek, as it were.
A few days later, Gordon was informed that her assignment was revoked and that she was no longer needed at M.D. Anderson, even though other temp surgical technicians remained at the hospital. She contends that she was a perfectly fine employee and that the "retaliatory" termination damaged her both emotionally and financially.
She is claiming gender discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, and retaliation. She has demanded a jury trial.
M.D. Anderson has yet to quit masturbating about their decisions and set down their big Johnny Holmes's long enough to file a response, although in a Houston Chronicle article about this suit, a spokesman sent the following written statement:
"M.D. Anderson cannot comment on the specific facts or allegations in any pending litigation. However, M.D. Anderson has very strong policies in place prohibiting sexual harassment and retaliation, and we take these allegations very seriously."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.