Jewish Woman Harassed by Boss for Being Jewish, Eating Banana, Lawsuit Claims

A Broward woman says that her former employer, American Medical Central, gave her flak for being Jewish -- going so far as to reprimand her for eating a banana at work -- a recently filed lawsuit claims.

That woman, Sheryl Ackerman, was employed as a social worker at the North Shore Medical Center/FMC Campus, starting in June 2006. The hospital insists that Ackerman did not suffer from discrimination.

"The hospital adamantly denies the allegations and will defend itself," a hospital spokesman told the Pulp.

She was the only Jewish staffer in her unit, according to a Broward County Civil Court document.

In January 2007, a woman by the name of Gayle Griffin became Ackerman's supervisor.

"Prior to that time, Ackerman had no issues or problems with her employment. But after Griffin became Ackerman's supervisor, and up through the unlawful termination of Akcerman's employment, Griffin treated Ackerman more harshly than other non-Jewish employees," court documents note.

Griffin disciplined Ackerman because "Ackerman had eaten a banana on the unit floor. Other non-Jewish employees were not disciplined for similar incidents," court documents claim.

Esther Morris, director of human resources, wound up removing the reprimand from Ackerman's file -- suggesting that the complaint was bogus to begin with, Ackerman claims.

Also, in November 2007, Griffin drafted a new policy for handling violent patients. When Ackerman followed that policy, she was suspended. When two other non-Jewish employees followed the policy, they were not disciplined in any way, Ackerman claims. 

Morris found out about the suspension and told Ackerman that she was not, in fact, suspended or on any type of disciplinary "probation." Griffin, however, told her otherwise.

Ackerman's work environment continued to sour, court docs claim, as she was routinely under more scrutiny than non-Jewish employees.

The coup de grace came in August 2008.

At that time, Griffin held a department meeting. She was "mad about something and warned everybody that the staff 'had not seen her other side,' and that her 'RN' designation -- actually for registered nurse -- stood for 'redneck.'"

Shortly after, Griffin is said to have approached Ackerman in the hallway. Griffin allegedly apologized -- for nothing in particular -- and claimed to have not known that Ackerman is Jewish. Griffin said she "found it 'fascinating'" that Ackerman is Jewish, court documents note.

Until Griffin fired Ackerman in January 2010, she claims that the discrimination continued to worsen.

She was given clerical work. She was slammed for taking holidays when doing so wasn't against company policy. She was also moved to an office far from other employees. When she tried to uphold her duties as a supervisor, Griffin called her "bossy," she claims.

Ackerman is suing the California-based corporation, and is demanding a jury trial for back pay and damages.

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Victoria Bekiempis