LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Two female employees at an eastern Kentucky hospital filed a lawsuit claiming that a room where workers changed clothes was wired with a hidden video camera.
The complaint raises the possibility that security officers or others watched employees undressing and dressing for an extended period at the Manchester hospital.
"It's clear that they sat there and watched the girls change clothes," said R. Scott Madden of Manchester, one of the attorneys representing the women.
The monitor is thought to have been in either the security office or main administration office, Madden told the Lexington Herald-Leader. He said it's unclear how long the camera had been in place. He said it's also not yet known why the device was in use - whether there was some supposed security purpose or whether people were spying for their own gratification.
Hospital spokesman Eric Lunde said in a statement that the camera was in place to monitor and secure drugs used in surgery, and that surgical staffers are provided unmonitored changing areas. Employees are informed of the possible presence of security cameras, and the hospital does not have cameras in any inappropriate areas, Lunde said.
We have the utmost respect for all individuals, and we regret that this upsetting situation has occurred," he said.
The plaintiffs are Angel Edwards, an operating-room nurse, and Terry Nitz, a certified registered nurse anesthetist. The suit, filed last week in Clay County and which seeks unspecified damages, is against Manchester Memorial Hospital and its chief officer, Dennis Meyers; two vice presidents and two security workers; hospital owner Adventist Health System Sunbelt, which is affiliated with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church; and unknown others.
The lawsuit said the hospital has two surgical suites with an adjacent anesthesia office. For years, male and female hospital workers have used that office as a changing room; the hospital does not have a women's locker room and there were problems with changing in restrooms, the suit said.
On March 30, Angel Edwards and her husband, Dr. Dana Edwards, were in the office discussing their next surgery when they saw a hole in a ceiling panel. They lifted the panel and found a hidden video camera, the lawsuit said.
After calling police, the Edwardses and Nitz confronted Meyers and Lee Wilson, security chief at the hospital. Wilson said when women were changing in the office, a female staffer would monitor the camera, the lawsuit said.
Within a month, the suit said, the hospital terminated Nitz's contract in retaliation for her complaints about the camera and about not getting the same bonus pay as a male employee who was a member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
The suit charges that the defendants violated state law against voyeurism and eavesdropping; invaded the privacy of Edwards and Nitz; violated hospital policy; and inflicted emotional distress on the women.
It also alleges that the hospital discriminated against Nitz because she was female and not a church member, and illegally retaliated against her.
Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader,
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)