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University of North Carolina Greensboro Nursing Student Claims Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

— December 1, 2019

Autumn Davis says she was forced out of her nursing program a month before graduation.

A former University of North Carolina nursing student is suing the school’s Greensboro campus, saying she was improperly dismissed from her a program a month before graduation.

According to The Winston-Salem Journal, Autumn Davis filed two separate suits earlier this week. Davis says she was forced to endure sexual harassment for years. When she accused a supervisor of misconduct, she was gradually pushed out of the nursing program.

Davis is suing the University of North Carolina’s Greensboro nursing unit in state court and UNC’s Board of Directors along with the Raleigh School of Nurse Anesthesia in federal court.

The nurse anesthesia school, notes the Journal, is a non-profit associated with the Greensoboro nursing program.

“These are, in my view, bad actors,” said Nicholas Sanservino, Jr, an attorney for Davis. “There appears to be a culture of retaliation unlike anything I’ve seen.”

Image of hospital beds
Davis says she was harassed while performing routine tasks, like intubation. Hospital Beds; image courtesy of
1662222 via Pixabay,

The Journal and lawsuit recount how Davis, 35, enrolled in a Doctor of Nursing program in August 2015. Hoping to some day work as a nurse anesthesiologist, Davis was assigned duties at WakeMed Raleigh Hospital.

At WakeMed, Davis was put under the supervision of a male certified registered nurse anesthetist, or CRNA. Davis says that, practically from her first day, the CRNA acted inappropriately. He started with innocuous invitations, asking her to dinner parties and private functions. But his misconduct quickly escalated; Davis says he once tried to “pull” her into a room. Another time, he “put himself on [Davis]” while she was intubating patients.

“That was when I said, ‘This is going way too far,’” Davis told the Winston-Salem Journal.

Davis reported the harassment in July 2016—and as soon as she did, alleges her lawsuit, WakeMed began retaliating against her.

“They started trying to find things,” Davis said. For instance, one supervisor told that “if I can’t get you for this, I can get you for something else.”

Then, in October, Davis was given more clinical duties—and, yet again, assigned to work with the same CRNA she’d reported for harassment.

The lawsuit, recounted by the Journal, provides the following timeline: Davis continued studying until June 2018, one month before she was due to graduate. She was suddenly dismissed from the program for unsafe nursing practices. When she appealed the decision, the University of North Carolina allowed her to re-enroll in January of 2019. However, she was dismissed again, also for unsafe nursing practices. UNCG refused further appeals.

In response to the federal suit, the North Carolina attorney general’s office has said there’s no reason to believe that Davis’s dismissal was the result of workplace retaliation. In the same statement, the A.G. notes there’s little evidence to suppose that ‘the state defendants’ controlled or otherwise influenced the CRNA that Davis says harassed her.


Lawsuit describes harassment, retaliation at nursing school

Woman files lawsuit in state court describing harassment, retaliation at UNC Greensboro nursing school

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