The complexities of workplace bullying

The Kevin Morrissey suicide saga continues.  Ted Genoways was a prick, from what I read – but there are much more details to discover if a workplace-bullying lawsuit is to follow.  As any life situation, this one is messy.  What a tragedy for all sides involved.

A couple of years ago, one of those bullied plaintiffs won his case against his bully boss.  The name of the boss was Dr. Raess, and I posted links to the various transcripts in the case in the previous bully post.  Below are the facts as presented at the second-to-last hearing on the case.  That’s one messy s.o.b.-of-a-case, if you ask me, so I wonder what you think.

On October 25, 2001, Doescher, who was acting as a perfusionist in an open-heart surgery being performed by Dr. Beth Ashworth (“Ashworth”) at St.Francis Hospital (“the Hospital”) in Beech Grove, Indiana, left during the surgery to attend to personal business. As a perfusionist, Doescher operated the “heart/lung” machine that kept the patient alive during the surgery. Prior to the beginning of the procedure, Doescher had arranged for Jennifer Lee, another perfusionist, to fill in for him after his departure. Although it was customary for a perfusionist to give notice of an absence to the physician conducting a surgical procedure, Hospital policy did not require such notice. Doescher did not give notice to Ashworth or to any other doctor.

The combination of Doescher’s absence, Lee’s commitment as Doescher’s replacement, and the involvement of the third perfusionist, Joe Borondy (“Borondy”), in a scheduled surgery left the Hospital with no available perfusionists for a short amount of time. Accordingly, Raess, who is a heart surgeon, was not immediately able to conduct an emergency heart surgery. Raess became angry and yelled at both Lee and Borondy.

The following day Borondy told Doescher about Raess’ outburst. Doescher testified that he then resigned his Chief Perfusionist position as a form of “protest.” However, Doescher continued working as a staff perfusionist at the Hospital.

On November 2, 2001, Doescher acted as a perfusionist in a heart surgery performed by Raess. Afterwards, Raess approached Doescher to talk about “coverage issues” such as the one caused by Doescher’s previous absence.

Doescher informed Raess that he was no longer Chief Perfusionist and that coverage issues were not his concern. The two men separated without further discussion.

Later in the day, Doescher and Raess were together in the “pump room” located between the operating rooms in the Hospital’s open-heart surgery area. An argument ensued and Raess became angry, causing his body to stiffen, his face to turn red, and his jugular vein to extend. Raess walked toward Doescher and exited out the door close to Doescher. At trial, Doescher testified that Raess walked toward him in a manner that caused Doescher to think that Raess was going to “smack the s* * * out of me.” Transcript at 484.  

Doescher also testified that although Raess’ balled fists were at his side, Raess’ demeanor and purposeful walk caused Doescher to back up against the wall and raise his hands in defense. Doescher then declared an end to the conversation, and Raess walked out after yelling, “You’re over. You’re history. You’re finished.” Doescher further testified that he felt assaulted because of “the advancement, the look in [Raess’] eye, [and] his body positioning.” Transcript at 492.

*2 After the November 2, 2001 incident, Doescher testified that he became depressed and anxious, exhibited heightened anxiety, developed sleep problems, and experienced loss of appetite. Doescher further testified that he lost his confidence and did not return to his position as a staff perfusionist.


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