Fired Hospital Worker Claims Boss Watched Porn During Surgery

Sandra Morris sues bosses, Mount Sinai Hospital for harassment, discrimination.

ByABC News
August 16, 2012, 9:45 AM

Aug. 16, 2012— -- A fired hospital technician has sued her former hospital and bosses for sex and religious discrimination, claiming one of them watched porn on in the operating room and called her a "dumb Jew bitch."

Sandra Morris, 37, claims she was the victim of sexist and anti-Semitic taunts over the five years she worked at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

"Miss Morris experienced mistreatment in the workplace that no employee should have to experience," said Morris' lawyer, Steven Warshawsky. "She's bringing this lawsuit to vindicate her legal rights and to ensure other employees are not subjected to same type of misconduct."

In a lawsuit filed July 31 in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Morris alleges her former immediate supervisor, cardiovascular perfusionist Ahmet Cercioglu, watched X-rated movies on his cell phone while operating equipment that keeps heart patients alive during bypass surgery.

"This was so commonplace that other perfusionists routinely joked about his behavior," the suit claims.

Cercioglu is also accused of calling Morris a "JAP," for "Jewish American Princess," and for calling her a "dumb Jew bitch" in front of her colleagues at a farewell party.

"Many of the incidents and issues alleged in the complaint were witnessed by other employees," said Warshawsky, adding that "several" co-workers would be called as witnesses in the case.

Morris also claims Cercioglu and her second supervisor, cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Ricardo Lazala, made sexist comments, at one point saying she could not work on some cases "because she doesn't have a 'dick,'" and that they would "never hire a woman again."

No female perfusionists have been hired full-time at Mount Sinai since Morris was hired in 2007, according to the lawsuit.

Calls to Cercioglu and Lazala were not immediately returned. A spokesman for Mount Sinai Medical Center declined to comment on the allegations because of the pending litigation but said in a statement that the hospital "maintains strong policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment in the workplace and does not tolerate behavior that violates these policies. Mount Sinai is confident that Ms. Morris will not prevail on her claims."

Morris is requesting compensatory damages for emotional pain and suffering, back pay for unpaid overtime and attorney's fees. She is not challenging the hospital's decision to end her employment, which came as no surprise after six months of unpaid leave for an on-the-job injury, according to Warshawsky.

"That's not the issue in this case," he said. "The issue is workplace mistreatment and mismanagement."