On April 21, 2023, a well-liked physician with Aurora Health Care was terminated. In documents obtained by KCE, the termination was due to an off-duty friendship she developed with a male physician she worked with. “Dr. Jen” has been with Aurora for almost 5 years and her patients like her. Dr. Jen worked with “Dr. Carl” together every day in a clinical setting. The two developed a friendship. They exchanged personal cell phone numbers and frequently talked about their hobbies, homes, friends, family and their romantic relationships. At times, both Doctors would go into details about their relationships with their respective partners. Both Doctors shared some romantic details with each other about their partners. Both spoke about some sexual details about their partners. This “racy banter” as described in the document was mutual. That was, until the male Doctor asked for that type of communication to cease. The female Doctor obliged and the friendship and communication continued, but without any more of the “racy banter.”
Some time later, the Male doctor complained to Human Resources about the communications, even though none of the conversations were during work time. Immediately, the female Doctor was terminated. The male Doctor, however, is still on the job. This didn’t seem right to Dr. Jen so she consulted with Kenosha Attorney Terry Rose, who also thought the termination was improper.
“This is nothing more than corporate medicine attempting to interfere with the personal lives of their employees,” said Rose who filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Equal Rights Division on Dr. Jen’s behalf. “Aurora’s conduct is discriminatory in that it treated [Dr. Jen], a female, differently than [Dr. Carl], a male. The same standards should be applied to both male and female employees.”
Dr. Jen filed for unemployment and it was granted. The State of Wisconsin granted approval, writing “The information available shows there was no violation of the employer’s policies.”
The state of Wisconsin received Dr. Jen’s complaint and also filed it with the Federal Government’s’ Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
KCE made contact with Aurora Health Care and they issued a statement:
“We take all allegations of sexual harassment seriously and thoroughly investigate. Following the outcome of the investigation, we take disciplinary action in accordance with our policies.” – Aurora Health Care.
If the state and/or EEOC side with Dr. Jen, Aurora could be forced to re-hire her or pay her a sum of money.