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Doctor Wins Suit Against Cancer Hospital for Sex Discrimination

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A former radiation oncologist at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute won a potential $3 million verdict against the hospital in federal court on charges that her employer retaliated against her when she raised concerns over gender discrimination in the hiring process. Overall, the jury voted to award Dr. Kristina Gerszten $1.5 million in back pay and an additional $827,292 in front pay. However, the decision will ultimately be up to the U.S. District Judge, Arthur J. Schwab, to decide what the hospital will pay for its actions.

Dr. Gerszten originally filed charges in 2008 alleging that hospital officials at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute purposefully passed over her and her female colleagues for promotions and prestigious positions in favor of less experienced male doctors. However, the jury failed to find any evidence of sex discrimination, but nevertheless awarded punitive damages for the hospital’s retaliation against her for originally filing the complaint.

After Dr. Gerszten filed the complaint, the news traveled to her superior, Dr. Dwight Heron, who was ultimately responsible for deciding on Dr. Gerszten’s promotions and contract renewals. The jury found that Dr. Heron retaliated against Dr. Gerszten by refusing to hire her as medical director at a sister hospital, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center or the Cancer Center in Natrona Heights, as well as refusing to renew her contract as an oncologist for the hospital when it expired in 2007.