Hospital CEO dismissal

Judge orders LCCH to release sexual harassment reprimand

By Les Bowen for Lake Chelan Mirror   |   Nov. 5, 2009   |   Original source behind paywall

Lake Chelan Community Hospital officials complied with a court order last week requiring the release of the notice of reprimand against former LCCH CEO Dave Bernier.

The document outlined the results of an investigation into a sexual harassment complaint against the former CEO.

The Mirror requested the record in mid-September, at the same time as the letter terminating Bernier’s employment. The document failed to be included in a court order by Chelan Superior Court Judge Lelsey Allan at an Oct. 16 hearing, but after reviewing the document last Friday, Oct. 30, Allan ordered the hospital to release the notice of notice of reprimand, with some information redacted.

Allan ordered the hospital redact information about the identity of the complaining party. “The balance … is disclosable as it references a specific act of misconduct as determined by the Hospital board and resulting disciplinary action,” Allan wrote in the order.

According to the document, Bernier allegedly sent sexually oriented messages to a hospital employee over a period of approximately eight months, “including messages suggesting that the complainant’s employment would improve if [he or she] engaged in sexual activity with [Bernier].” The notice also states the former CEO admitted to booking a hotel room with one bed to share with the complainant and the independent investigation by attorney Susan Troppmann found that Bernier was “influential in creating a new management position description that would have suited [Bernier’s] domestic partner after the complainant complained about establishing the position in [the complainant’s] department.”

While the investigation found the former CEO’s actions did not rise to the level of creating a hostile work environment or discrimination, in the hospital commissioners’ view, his actions could be considered harassment and were a violation of the hospital’s employee policy.

“These actions demonstrate a significant lack of judgement and potentially expose the hospital to litigation,” hospital commissioners wrote.

The notice of reprimand was created in response to a Sept. 14 action by the hospital commission – the same day the board took action to terminate Bernier’s employment at the hospital. The document was signed by Commission Chairwoman Mary Pat Scofield, but was not signed by Bernier.

The former CEO told the Mirror in an interview on Oct. 16 that he continued to deny any wrongdoing and at that time had not seen the notice of reprimand.