The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing Baxter County Regional Medical Center in Mountain Home over allegations that it retaliated against an employee over her involvement in a sexual harassment complaint.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, also names the group practice Interventional Pain Management Associates PLLC as a defendant.
The lawsuit alleges that the hospital fired Hillary-Paige Potter, a physician assistant for IPMA, for responding to a sexual harassment complaint her assistant filed against another employee. IPMA was owned by Dr. Ira Chatman and Dr. Ronald Tilley at the time.
The assistant complained to Potter in 2019 that Tilley was sexually harassing her. The assistant also complained to the hospital.
After the hospital investigated the allegations, Tilley went on a sabbatical, the suit says.
Chatman allegedly confronted Potter and told her that if he could prove she was the one who reported Tilley, she would never work in northwest Arkansas again. He began requiring Potter to
drive to another Baxter Regional location in Harrison to work. The suit says he also changed Potter’s schedule, reducing her time off.
In March 2022, Chatman allegedly told Potter that she had to resign because of ongoing discussions with the hospital, IPMA and Tilley about the possibility of Tilley’s return to IPMA. Chatman allegedly told Potter that she and Tilley could not work together because of her involvement in the sexual harassment investigation. He called her a “rabble rouser” and accused her of creating a hostile work environment.
But Potter refused to quit and declined to sign a severance agreement prohibiting her from discussing the circumstances of her departure. Because of that, the lawsuit alleges, she was fired.
Baxter County Regional and IPMA had not filed a response to the suit Thursday.
The group practice did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Arkansas Business.
The EEOC is suing on alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It seeks monetary relief in the form of back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, compensation for lost benefits, and an injunction against future discrimination.