by Marty Mayfield
RATON — According to district court records, the MCMC Board of Directors was served with a lawsuit brought against them for violations of the New Mexico Human Rights Act and the New Mexico Tort Claims Act by a former hospital employee.
The complaint, filed in District Court in Albuquerque states that while working at MCMC, Gail Stoecker worked in the administrative office and was assigned by CEO Bo Beames to work with Brian Moffett on emergency planning for the hospital. The complaint notes Moffett’s behavior was normal at first but during the summer of 2017, his behavior changed.
At that time Stoecker noted Moffett began making comments about her clothing and how her clothes fit, with the comments becoming more severe and pervasive. Stoecker complained the comments were unwanted and constituted sexual harassment. This behavior continued and then became physical with touching and other physical contact.
The behavior went on to include texting and following Stoecker to places outside of work. Stoecker noted Moffett began to ask her to go out with him and she refused his requests. Other situations arose at the hospital where this behavior went on in front of supervisors and other hospital employees, namely Eric Armstrong, who was Moffett’s supervisor and was later promoted to Director of Operations. The complaint noted Armstrong failed to stop the harassment and according to the complaint became part of the problem by condoning the behavior.
According to court records, the harassment was reported to Human Resources Director Barbara Duran who failed to investigate the complaints. It also notes Bo Beames and Eric Armstrong failed to investigate the complaints and failed to counsel Moffett that this behavior was inappropriate and against hospital policy. The complaint goes on to indicate that Duran discouraged Stoecker from making a formal complaint. The complaint also indicates other female employees had complained about Moffett’s behavior which occurred prior to July of 2017.
Stoecker did file a formal complaint at which time she was severely interrogated and referred to a therapist who was good friends with Moffett. Realizing they were friends Stoecker found another therapist to handle her case. The harassment was severe enough that it was diagnosed as PTSD by Stoecker’s psychotherapist, which was caused by a hostile work environment.
The complaint goes on to say Stoecker was terminated from MCMC in June of 2018. Before her termination, Stoecker had filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Bureau in January of 2018. The suit is brought against the board of directors as they are the body responsible for management and operation of the hospital, pursuant to NMSA 23-3-2. The complaint went on to say the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care to prevent and correct sexual harassment and provide a safe work environment.
A court date has not been set for this case which has been requested to be heard by a 6-member jury. Stoecker said in a World Journal story that “While this is certainly a situation no one ever wishes to be in, it’s my goal to speak up and work to ensure that future generations of women do not have to endure what I have.”