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Sexual Harassment Claim Filed Against Atlanta West Women’s Center

A civil action submitted in Douglas County, Georgia indicates the Plaintiff has filed charges against Atlanta West Women’s Center, P.C. and owner Dr. Jaswant Chaddha. Charges include negligent retention and supervision, intentional infliction of emotional distress and battery. A jury trial has been demanded.

Atlanta West employed the Plaintiff from  January 2010 through June 2012. Starting in November 2011 the Plaintiff began encountering unwanted remarks from Dr. Chaddha regarding her positive attitude and his attraction to her based on her resilience. In March 2012, Dr. Chaddha began sexually harassing the Plaintiff. He insisted on private training sessions and began making inappropriate verbal comments, escalating to inappropriate physical touch. This behavior continued through March 2012 and the Plaintiff feared losing her job. Shortly thereafter Dr. Chaddha married the practice manager for Atlanta West.

Harassment escalated in June 2012. The Plaintiff entered Dr. Chaddha’s office to discuss billing and he proceeded to grab her, attempting to French kiss her and forcibly grabbing her butt and crotch. The Plaintiff pushed him away, requested that he stop, and rushed out of his office. Dr. Chaddha followed her out of his office and begged her not to tell Ms. Chaddha, his wife. The following day, the Plaintiff placed a letter on Dr. Chaddha’s desk explaining why his conduct was inappropriate and offensive. Following the incident, the Plaintiff’s employment went from four to three work days per week and was further threatened to be cut to two work days per week. Three weeks later Ms. Chaddha, the practice manager for Atlanta West, began verbally reprimanding the Plaintiff and threatened her, stating that as the bosses wife she could fire her and telling the Plaintiff to leave immediately and not come back. Ms. Chaddha screamed at the Plaintiff as she departed the office, resulting in the Plaintiff’s sudden termination.

The Plaintiff contends that Atlanta West was aware of Dr. Chaddha’s propensity to sexually harass its employees, the Plaintiff in particular, and did not take steps to prevent sexual harassment from occurring.  The Plaintiff was forced to endure a hostile work environment. The sexual harassment was severe and ultimately altered the terms and conditions of the Plaintiff’s employment.

The unlawful employment practices resulted in the Plaintiff losing her primary source of income for her family. In addition, the Plaintiff now has severe emotional distress including but not limited to; insomnia, decreased social interaction, paranoia, and humiliation. The charges presented show Atlanta West failed to take appropriate remedial actions to correct sexual harassment and is liable for damages sustained by the Plaintiff.

PDF Version of Complaint

IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF DOUGLAS COUNTY
STATE OF GEORGIA
KAREN MARCUM,
Plaintiff,
v.
ATLANTA WEST WOMEN’S CENTER, P.C. and JASWANT CHADDHA, M.D., Defendants.
Civil Action No.
JURY TRIAL DEMANDED
COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

COMES NOW, Plaintiff, by and through undersigned counsel, and files this her Complaint for Damages, and shows the Court as follows:

JURISDICTION

1.  This court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s claims.

VENUE

2.  The unlawful employment practices alleged in this Complaint were committed within this county. Thus, venue is appropriate in this Court.

PARTIES

3.  Plaintiff Karen Marcum at all times relevant to this matter was employed by Defendants. Plaintiff submits herself to the jurisdiction of this Court.

4.  Defendant Atlanta West Women’s Center, P.C. (“Atlanta West”) is a corporation organized under the laws of the state of Georgia, with the principal place of business located in Douglasville, Georgia. Defendant Jaswant Chaddha (“Chaddha”) is the owner of Atlanta West and is believed to reside in Douglasville, Georgia. At all times relevant to this action, Defendants have been doing business within this county.

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

5.  Defendant Atlanta West was Plaintiff’s employer from approximately January 2010 to June 2012.

6.  At all times relevant to this matter, Chaddha was, and is, the owner of Atlanta West. In addition, Chaddha is a doctor who performs medical services on behalf of Atlanta West.

7.  Jaswant Chaddha sexually harassed Plaintiff while employed at Atlanta West.

8.  Defendant Atlanta West was aware of Chaddha’s propensity to sexually harass its employees, and Plaintiff in particular.

9.  Plaintiff Karen Marcum was hired by Defendant Atlanta West on or about January 10, 2010 as a receptionist. Eventually, Defendant Atlanta West promoted Plaintiff to the position of Director of Marketing.

10.  In 2011, Plaintiff was diagnosed with a serious medical condition that required extensive treatment. Upon Plaintiff’s return to work in November 2011, Chadda remarked continually about Plaintiff’s positive attitude and stated that he was attracted to her based on her resilience.

11.  Starting approximately March 2012, Chaddha began sexually harassing Plaintiff. At that time, he began training Plaintiff on insurance billing practices, and he insisted that the training sessions be conducted alone.

12.  During these sessions, Chaddha began to make comments to Plaintiff such as, “you have a nice body”, “I want you really bad”, and “I could eat you.”

13.  During one of these sessions, Plaintiff wore blue slacks and Chaddha told her how sexy she looked in them. Plaintiff never wore those slacks again.

14.  During one of these sessions, Chaddha continually grabbed Plaintiff’s thigh under the table. Plaintiff would remove Chaddha’s hand from her thigh or keep moving away from him at the table.

15.  During these sessions, Chaddha would walk up behind Plaintiff and try to pick her up in a hug from behind.

16.  These sessions continued through March and April 2012. Plaintiff feared losing her job if she opposed Chaddha’s behavior too strenuously. During this time, Plaintiff was still undergoing intensive medical treatment.

17.  At one time, Chaddha showed Plaintiff a photograph on his cellular phone of Chaddha, Plaintiff, and Chaddha’s soon-to-be wife, Emma (“Ms. Chaddha”). Chaddha had cropped the image so that it only displayed Plaintiff. Chaddha told Plaintiff that the picture showed how “perfect and sexy” she appeared. He also told her that when he went out of town for lectures he would talk to her picture and kiss it in his hotel room at night.

18.  In early May 2012, Plaintiff was hospitalized for complications arising from her medical treatment. Chaddha visited Plaintiff while she was in her hospital bed and whispered in her ear that he “loved” her. Plaintiff did not reply because Ms. Chaddha was in the room.

19.  Later in May 2012, Chaddha married Ms. Chaddha.

20.  Ms. Chaddha was Practice Manager for Atlanta West.

21.  On or about June 4, 2012, Plaintiff entered Chaddha’s office to discuss billing. As she got up to leave, Chaddha abruptly got up from his desk and grabbed Plaintiff. He pulled her toward him, attempted to French kiss her, and forcibly grabbed her butt and her crotch.

22.  In response, Plaintiff pushed Chaddha away and yelled “No! Please stop!” She rushed out of the office, and he followed her to her desk, begging her not to tell Ms. Chaddha.

23.  That evening, Plaintiff composed a letter to Chaddha, explaining why his conduct was offensive and inappropriate. She added an addendum listing Biblical references that elucidated why his conduct was morally wrong. She left the letter on Chaddha’s desk on the morning of June 5, 2012.

24.  After this date, Chaddha’s manner toward Plaintiff became more distant and cold.

25.  After delivery of the letter, Atlanta West cut Plaintiff’s workdays from four per week down to three. Chaddha also threatened to cut Plaintiff down to two days per week.

26.  On or about June 26, 2012 Ms. Chaddha, the Practice Manager, reprimanded Plantiff for being disrespectful to Chaddha by not saying “good morning” to him. Plaintiff responded that she had attempted to say “good morning” but Chaddha did not respond.

27.  The next day, Ms. Chaddha approached Plaintiff in a hostile fashion, threatening to “rip the wig of your head and beat you with it.”

28.  Later that morning, while Plaintiff was vacuuming a rug in the office, Ms. Chaddha ripped the vacuum plug from the wall and screamed at Plaintiff while a patient was waiting in the lobby. When Plaintiff stated that Ms. Chaddha was being overly harsh, Ms. Chaddha responded “I am the boss’s wife. I can fire you. You leave immediately and don’t come back.”

29.  After this sudden termination of employment, as Plaintiff left the office, Ms. Chaddha followed her, screaming “You go on, you heifer. Get to your ratty husband, your four bratty kids, with you struggling with breast cancer!”

30.  Throughout the harassment described above, Plaintiff was undergoing medical treatment for cancer. Because of the sudden termination, Plaintiff and her family lost their primary source of regular earned income.

31.  The sexual harassment lasted from March 2012 to Plaintiff’s sudden termination on June 27, 2012.

32.  The sexual harassment was severe or pervasive, altering the terms and conditions of Karen Marcum’s employment.

33.  Atlanta West created a hostile work environment that Karen Marcum was required to endure as a condition of employment.

34.  Atlanta West chose not to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment from occurring, despite its knowledge of its owner/employee’s propensity for sexual harassment.

35.  Atlanta West failed to take appropriate remedial actions to correct the sexual harassment.

36.  Atlanta West failed to take appropriate remedial actions to correct the sexual harassment.

37.  As a result of the harassment described above and the sudden termination, both targeting her when she was sick and vulnerable, Plaintiff has experienced severe emotional distress. This distress has manifested itself in insomnia (including recurring mental images of Chaddha attempting to kiss her), a marked decrease in social interaction or even taking her children out in public for fear of encountering other predatory men, and feelings of paranoia and humiliation, among other things. In addition, the termination resulted in sudden and severe loss of income, because Plaintiff’s wages through Atlanta West were the only steady paycheck for her family of six.

CLAIMS FOR RELIEF
NEGLIGENT RETENTION AND SUPERVISION

38.  Plaintiff re-alleges the preceding paragraphs as if set forth fully herein.

39.  Defendant Atlanta West knew, or in the exercise of ordinary diligence, should have known of the propensity of its employee/owner, Defendant Chaddha, to engage in sexually offensive conduct toward other employees, and Karen Marcum in particular.

40.  It was foreseeable that Defendant Chaddha would engage in sexual harassment of Plaintiff, and that he would continue to do so after his initial harassing behavior.

41.  Defendant Atlanta West nevertheless failed and refused to act to protect Plaintiff.

42.  Defendant Atlanta West is thus liable to Karen Marcum for all of the damages she sustained as a result.

INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS

43.  Plaintiff re-alleges the preceding paragraphs as if set forth fully herein.

44.  Defendants’ conduct – both the harassment and the termination in retaliation for complaining of the harassment – was extreme and outrageous.

45.  Defendant Atlanta West, by its actions, ratified the extreme and outrageous conduct of Defendant Chaddha. Defendant Chaddha, in turn, ratified the retaliatory termination by failing to retract it.

46.  Defendants intended to inflict severe emotional distress or knew that it was a high probability that their conduct would do so.

47.  Defendants’ conduct actually caused Plaintiff to suffer severe emotional distress.

48.  Defendants are liable for all general and special damages proximately resulting from the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

BATTERY

49.  Plaintiff re-alleges the preceding paragraphs as if set forth fully herein.

50.  On every occasion Defendant Jaswant Chaddha touched Karen Marcum in an offensive manner without permission or other justification, he committed battery.

51.  Defendant Chaddha is liable for all general and special damages proximately resulting from each battery of Karen Marcum.

PUNITIVE DAMAGES, O.C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1

52.  Plaintiff re-alleges the preceding paragraphs as if set forth fully herein.

53.  The foregoing acts of Defendants were intentional and humiliating, and evince a conscious indifference to the consequences of their actions and to the circumstances and rights of others, along with a specific intent to cause harm. Plaintiff is entitled to recover from Defendants, in addition to compensatory damages, an award of punitive damages under the law of Georgia to punish Defendants, or to deter them from repeating such wrongful acts.

ATTORNEYS’ FEES AND EXPENSES OF LITIGATION,  O.C.G.A. § 13-6-11

54.  Plaintiff re-alleges the preceding paragraphs as if fully set forth herein.
55.  Defendants have acted in bad faith, been stubbornly litigious, and/or caused Plaintiff unnecessary trouble and expense in litigating this case, and Plaintiff is thus entitled to recovery of the expenses of this litigation, including attorneys’ fees, under Georgia law, including but not limited to O.C.G.A. § 13-6-11.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff requests judgment as follows:
(a) General damages for mental and emotional suffering caused by Defendants’ misconduct;
(b) Punitive damages based on Defendants’ willful, malicious, intentional, and deliberate acts, including ratification, condonation and approval of said acts;
(c) Special damages and/or liquidated damages for lost wages and benefits and prejudgment interest thereon;
(d) Reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses of litigation;
(e) Trial by jury as to all issues;
(f) Prejudgment interest at the rate allowed by law;
(g) All other relief to which he may be entitled.

Respectfully submitted the ____ day of November, 2013.

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