BILLINGS- A Billings Clinic female employee has filed a federal sexual harassment complaint against the hospital’s former CEO, Randall Gibb, who was fired in May for undisclosed reasons.
The woman’s attorney, Joshua Friedman, told Q2 News Friday that the woman, a longtime administrative assistant, had been subjected to offensive sexual conduct and lewd comments by Gibb for two years, starting in the fall of 2016.
Some of those comments also took place in front of other members of senior management at Billings Clinic, who either ignored them or pretended they didn’t happen, according to Friedman and the complaint filed Tuesday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
She was later demoted for speaking out, Friedman said.
“She went through an escalating period of interactions with somebody who became increasingly abusive towards her, commenting about her weight and appearance, making extraordinarily vulgar comments of a sexual nature,” Friedman said.
Among Gibb’s comments included in the complaint were a sexually suggestive joke (“What’s better than roses on a piano? Tulips on my organ”), masturbating sounds and gestures and stating he preferred a blonde with larger breasts in the woman’s position.
Q2 News has agreed not to identify the accuser.
Gibb’s attorney, John Crist of Billings, called the allegations in the complaint “inaccurate and misleading.” He also said in a statement the women was transferred out of her position for performance-related reasons and added that it’s “unfortunate and disappointing” that she now is making these allegations.
He declined further comment beyond the statement.
The Billings Clinic Board of Directors said in a statement that members of senior leadership became aware of a complaint related to Gibb and passed their concerns to the board.
An outside investigation was conducted, which led to Gibb’s termination on May 21, according to the statement.
“Billings Clinic’s Board of Directors, acting on information from members of its senior leadership and the independent investigation, took the appropriate steps to investigate and take action,” the directors wrote.
Friedman disagreed, telling Q2 News that the woman sought a leave of absence last fall because of Gibb’s conduct and was instead demoted. She remains on leave.
“Her nightmare became a reality when she was told she was being demoted in the same conversation that her need for family and medical leave was in that same conversation about sexual harassment,” he said.
Friedman is a partner in New York-based Friedman & Houlding LLC, which specializes in sexual-harassment cases. He came to represent the woman through Time’s Up, an advocacy group formed by supporters of women victimized by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and executives at Fox News.
Gibb was named CEO at Billings Clinic in July 2017, replacing the hospital’s longtime top administrator, Dr. Nick Wolter. Gibb started at the hospital in 2006 as a gynecologist.
The hospital named two interim co-CEOs, Drs. Robert Merchant and John Schallenkamp, to take over. Directors are searching for a permanent replacement.
Story by Erik Olson and Andrea Lutz, Q2 News