The department would have been getting performance bonuses this year, if it hadn’t been for that pesky lawsuit filed by a resident who says she was raped and wrongfully fired.
That’s what the head of a medical department at the University of New Mexico told faculty members in an email sent in November.
Anesthesiology Department Chair Hugh Martin wrote that due to a recent legal settlement with the “former dismissed problem resident,” the department had to “reallocate” the money he planned to use for a bonus to pay the settlement costs, according to the email.
The woman said in the wrongful termination lawsuit filed in 2011 that she was raped in June 2009 by a post-doctoral fellow and anesthesiologist at the university. Afraid she’d face repercussions, she waited until September to report it to department higher-ups, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit said officials “discouraged” her from reporting the alleged assault to law enforcement officials to avoid damaging the school’s reputation.
The suit accused the university of failing to conduct an investigation into the allegations and of eventually terminating the resident, violating state laws, in 2011. The case was thrown out in 2013 but reinstated on appeal in 2015. UNM’s attorneys agreed to settle for an undisclosed amount in November, according to the NM Political Report.
That same month, Dr. Martin wrote about the case in a separate email, saying that “given the current high profile Harvey Weinstein social environment and the threat of forced reinstatement of a known problem resident back into our department, we thought the wisest move was to settle and move on.”
UNM spokeswoman Alex Sanchez confirmed to the NM Political Report that the settlement from the case directly impacted the department.
“I think it’s accurate to say in this situation the department’s finances were used in the proceedings of this case,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez explained to the publication that the retention bonuses Martin was referring to in the email are part of an “incentive pay” program within the medical school.
Lisa Curtis, the woman’s attorney, called the email an “attack” on her client and said she plans to sue the university for defamation, KRQE-TV reported.
The school said in a statement to the television station that the “Health Sciences Center is committed to constantly reflecting and improving how we avoid, stop and address sexual harassment and/or assault on any faculty, staff, student or patient at our facilities.”