Largest Sexual Harassment Verdict in History – $168 Million

Landmark sexual harassment verdictA Sacramento hospital has the dubious distinction of being hit with what may be the largest sexual harassment verdict in history. On August 7, 2008, Mercy General Hospital terminated Ani Chopourian, a 45-year-old former cardiac surgery physician assistant who was educated at UCLA and Yale, allegedly for failing to show up for an on-call shift and for sleeping on the job. Chopourian claimed the real reason she was being terminated was because she had filed 18 written complaints over a two-year period covering patient safety to sexual harassment to meal and rest break violations. Her last complaint was filed just 7 days before she was terminated.

On April 29, 2012, a federal court jury unanimously sided with Chopourian and found that Mercy Hospital had engaged in sexual harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, intentional interference with her job search, defamation and meal and rest break violations. The jury slapped Mercy Hospital with a landmark $168 million verdict, consisting of economic damages, emotional distress damages and punitive damages.

During the 11-day trial, Chopourian testified that she was tormented and sexually harassed by surgeons and medical staff for 2 years. Chopourian recounted how one harasser told her, “you’ll give in to me”, to which she replied, “I’ll never give in to you”. Chopourian told reporters, “I’d look at my supervisor and say, ‘Do something.’ They’d just laugh”. Witnesses confirmed that one of the surgeons would greet employees with “I’m horny”. Chopourian’s lawyer, Lawrence Bohm, described the hospital as a “raunchy, vile, toxic workplace”.

A year after being terminated, Chopourian found a new position. She lost that job, however, after Mercy withdrew Chopourian’s hospital privileges – typically the kiss of death for medical professionals. Chopourian became unemployed and continued to live off donations from friends and family at the time of trial.

After the verdict, Mercy General Hospital President Denny Powell issued a statement saying they would appeal: “We do not believe that the facts support this verdict or judgment. We stand by the actions we took in ending our relationship with this former employee.” Chopourian’s attorney responded, “It’s very disappointing that they want to appeal after so much evidence and after so many witnesses came forward so bravely.”


  1. Sergio on December 24, 2020 at 3:47 pm

    I underwent a Fitness for Duty Exam earlier this year and was found fit for duty without restriction. However, the evaluator included information about my diagnoses in the certification. Does this violate HIPAA? HR won’t remove the language, even though this information will be seen by future supervisors and I was told, by the evaluator, that information about my diagnosis would not be disclosed.

  2. Sergio Benavidess on July 27, 2018 at 7:31 pm

    I took my wife to Urgent Care they gave her 3 days off and now her boss is asking that she needs a letter to release to go back to work.

    Any ideas

    • Kim S. on August 5, 2018 at 5:43 pm

      If the urgent care was due to a job injury, her boss can require a release back to work letter from the Dr. , then that would also be a workmans comp case,

      But if the injury or sickness is not work related, then usually the Dr. just writes a note that states that she is off for 3 days due to illness and you give that note to the employer.

      I don’t know if they are allowed to request a return back to work release though if it was not due to job injury.

  3. Michael on December 30, 2017 at 8:58 am

    My employer tells me he will be. renovatting the workplace for a period of time.Am I entitled to get paid.michael

    • Eugene Lee on August 29, 2018 at 7:41 pm

      Not unless you have a written contract or union agreement or employee manual that says you must be paid for that.

  4. Monalisa E Logronio on August 22, 2017 at 1:35 am

    This is regarding my daughter’s plight with her co-employee at Subway Crossroad Pleasant Hill, CA
    she was being harassed and stressed by one of their employee. She was being tagged as lazy and irresponsible by that co employee of her. Oftentimes she scattering ugly rumors with some of her co-employee that she was stealing money from the register. Every time she came home she cannot eat and always tired because of the stressful day in the store with that same employee. Sometimes, when she attended school after working in that store she was quiet and inattentive so her teacher are wondering why because she was not that same girl who was always attentive and participating. She and some of the employees brought the matter to the owner/bossregarding that person who are always on the phone while working and and does not do her work and just told my daughter to do all the jobs supposedly hers but to no avail. She was just new in America and it was her first job. To ease her burden on the store, I told her to resign right away to ease her burden and stress. Is this workplace harassment to say please help us what to do next so that person/store will not continue doing this kind of harassment. AlI have a video or a tape of their conversation/altercation on my daughter’s cellphone to protect her side of the story. Please help us.

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