By Robin Bond
We often represent employees who are the subject of an internal investigation at work. Regrettably, we find that the process often is not objective and unbiased, but rather a way for the employer to justify taking pre-determined adverse action against the employee. A recent Philadelphia jury verdict shows how dangerous – and expensive – that approach can be to the employer.
On December 11, 2023, a federal jury in Philadelphia awarded more than $15 million to former Rothman Orthopaedic Institute surgeon John Abraham after jurors found Thomas Jefferson University conducted a gender-biased investigation into rape allegations against him and interfered with his contract with Rothman.
The jury concluded that Jefferson treated Abraham unequally because he is male. This occurred during a 2018 investigation into a former medical resident’s allegations that he raped her. The jury found that Jefferson’s leadership failed to take seriously Dr. Abraham’s allegation that the female resident forced herself on him after she got him too drunk to consent. The jury also concluded Jefferson’s actions caused him to lose his financial contract with Rothman.
The award represents $11 million to compensate Dr. Abraham for financial losses and an additional $4 million in punitive damages for “outrageous conduct” that caused emotional distress and harm to his reputation.
If you are the subject of any type of investigation, get legal counsel immediately to help you prepare for the interrogation process and to try to minimize the disruption to your life.