6 August 2018 | A former Shawnee Mission Medical Center director of women’s and children’s services is suing the hospital claiming that male executives ignored her report about hospital birth center understaffing because she is a woman. The lawsuit claims that there was a “boys’ club” atmosphere at the hospital.
Margaret Meier says she was fired after warning administration that staffing situations were undermining patient safety. Meier worked as director of women’s and children’s services at the hospital from April 2015 to February 2017.
According to The Kansas City Star, the lawsuit claims that chief operating officer Michael Knecht, along with other male executives “were dismissive of her in ways that they did not treat other males.” It also claims that during her employment, “there was a pattern and practice of male non-clinical leaders not listening to or accepting the professional observations, judgments and recommendations of female, clinical experts.”
“Our nursing ratios meet national benchmarks for similar hospitals, and we have continued to review staffing and add nurses to accommodate the growth we’ve experienced since opening our Birth Center in 2013,” said Morgan Shandler, a spokeswoman for Shawnee Mission Health, responding to the lawsuit in an email to the Kansas City Star. “As Kansas City’s longstanding leader in maternity care, we have extremely high standards for patient safety.”
In response to the accusations of discrimination, Shandler said, “Our organization’s values are based on inclusivity, which guides how we interact and treat our team members,” adding, “We have confidence in the legal process and that these truths will be validated as part of this course.”
The lawsuit also claims that the hospital set different budgetary standards for departments headed by males than they did for ones led by females. The claim is that female heads therefore made less bonus money.
In addition, the lawsuit describes Knecht and chief financial officer Karsten Randolph as “dismissive, demeaning, hostile and belittling in a gender-related way,” claiming that they asked Meier if she understood how the facility set its budgetary benchmarks and told her staff, “Your director needs a lesson on productivity.”
In describing the “boys’ club” atmosphere at the hospital, the suit said that former CEO Ken Bacon set up golf outings with male executives and managers but invited female leaders only if instructed to do so by HR.
Shawnee Mission Medical Center is part of Adventist Health System, a non-profit healthcare organization that operates 45 hospital campuses within the Southern and Midwestern regions of the United States. The AHS headquarters is in Altamonte Springs, Florida. The system is affiliated with the Adventist Church.