Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

March 28, 2018

Nurse accuses UMass Memorial of gender discrimination

Courtesy An operating room nurse said doctors who were her superiors engaged in harassment during her time working in a UMass Memorial Medical Center operating room. The hospital said it conducted an investigation and that the nurse's claims are unfounded.

A spokesman for UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester said the hospital is planning a vigorous defense after a former nurse filed a grievance with the state, alleging gender discrimination.

In January, Winchendon resident Kirsten Maxfield filed her complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), detailing alleged harassment by male doctors who were her superiors, as well other staff, that Maxfield said took place between August 2016 and April 2017.

According to a complaint narrative filed by Maxfield’s attorney, Christopher Wurster of Maynard, the harassment began when Maxfield moved from her position as an emergency room nurse, to the operating room. Allegations include instances where medical staff and surgeons were verbally abusive, used foul language and made violent gestures, such as slamming medical instruments down.

In one instance, Maxfield said a surgeon sprayed her with an instrument containing a patient’s bodily fluid while she was working in the operating room, which Wurster called a twisted hazing ritual, in the narrative. The doctor said it was unintentional.

After reporting the assault to administrators, and to OSHA, Maxfield’s attorney said UMass Memorial conducted an investigation and said Maxfield’s allegations were unfounded. In July 2017, she was placed on unpaid administrative leave after she opted to wait for another position within the hospital to open up, the narrative said.

Wurster said in an interview on Wednesday the investigation hadn’t been conducted in earnest, and administrators at the hospital suggested Maxfield had fabricated her story.

Wurster noted discrimination cases are first filed before MCAD, but that’s often only a first step. After 90 days, Wurster said clients often take their employers to court, though he hasn’t determined how Maxfield’s case will proceed.

UMass Memorial hasn’t yet formally responded to the complaint before MCAD, Wurster said. UMass Memorial spokesman Anthony Berry said in an email statement Wednesday that Maxfield’s claims are unfounded.

“We take these allegations very seriously. We have conducted a thorough investigation of each claim – in accordance with standard procedures – and found no support for the charge’s allegations. We plan a vigorous defense against them,” Berry wrote.

On Friday, Wurster's firm Levine-Piro Law said multiple other current and former workers the hospital have come forward with similar allegations since Maxwell's story was published. 

Sign up for Enews

WBJ Web Partners

Related Content


Order a PDF