Numerous members of TIME’S UP Healthcare have left the organization after two other founding members were alleged in a lawsuit to have inappropriately handled complaints about sexual assault and harassment.
The federal lawsuit, filed by an anonymous plaintiff from the VA Medical Center in Portland, Oregon, accuses Jason Campbell, MD — a physician who has made a name for himself by dancing on social media — of sexual assault and of sending her sexual texts and images.
According to the suit, the plaintiff revealed Campbell’s behavior to Esther Choo, MD, MPH, an emergency physician at Oregon Health and Science University and founding member of TIME’S UP Healthcare, but Choo did not report Campbell’s behavior.
The suit also alleges TIME’S UP Healthcare founding member Laura Stadum, PhD, did not take strong enough action on a previous sexual harassment complaint.
TIME’S UP Foundation, the healthcare group’s parent organization, did not return a MedPage Today request for comment. However, it posted a statement last Thursday from its CEO, Tina Tchen, noting that while Choo is mentioned in the complaint, it is “important to clarify that she is neither a defendant nor a party to the case.”
“Because Dr. Choo is at most a witness to these events and may have to testify about them, it is not appropriate for Dr. Choo or TIME’S UP to comment further on matters in litigation,” the statement said.
“We wanted to reiterate that TIME’S UP remains committed to addressing the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and gender discrimination in health care and across industries,” it continued. “We remain supportive of survivors and will continue our mission to fight for safer, more equitable workplaces.”
At least 10 of the healthcare group’s founding members resigned and posted their reasons on Twitter. Many of those who resigned noted they were unhappy with the parent organization’s silence on the matter. The complaint was filed on Feb. 26.
“I disagree with the narrative that making no meaningful statement helps to center the story on survivors,” tweeted Angela Lawson, PhD. “Instead, it only generates more distractions from her story.”
“The events of the past week seriously conflict w the reasons I joined TUH,” tweeted Lynn Fiellin, MD. “Our work is to focus on supporting and protecting the survivors and it seems the organization has lost sight of that.”
Jessi Gold, MD, tweeted that, “We need to be focused on [survivors’] stories and on accountability even when it is hard. I am disappointed that this principle not only has not been a guiding light but I worry it has been lost here completely.”
Arghavan Salles, MD, PhD, tweeted that, “No social movement is perfect. And every organization is bigger than one person. I know this work will continue — and I will continue doing it, because I believe we all have a right to safety at work. I just will no longer be doing it under the auspices of TIME’S UP Healthcare.”
Sarah Diekman, MD, JD, who said she had a crushing experience reporting sexual harassment during residency, tweeted that her conscience “has given me no choice but to speak with my small voice and say that: I cannot put my name behind this organization in its current state. The voice of the survivors is not something that I can ignore. I cannot shake the feeling that I may be the last voice that they trust to speak for them. If I am the last voice they trust, I may have only a small voice, but I will use it.” [original emphasis]
STAT reported that TIME’S UP Healthcare sent out a form response to each person who resigned. Monica McLemore, PhD, MPH, RN, described it to STAT as, “Thank you so much for your note, we’re sorry for the conclusion you have reached but of course, we respect it.”
Lauren Powell, MD, was appointed executive director of TIME’S UP Healthcare in December 2019, but has since left. She is now vice president of health equity at Takeda, according to her Twitter profile.