Last summer, an award-winning doctor was promoted by Yale University to lead the 'diversity and inclusion' chair in the medical school department. The move was carried out by the University despite receiving multiple sexual harassment complaints from women who had been supervised by the doctor, a federal lawsuit filed on Thursday claimed.

The suit states six female doctors who have claimed that Dr. Manuel Lopes Fontes, division chief of cardiac anesthesiology at Yale New Haven Hospital and director of clinical research for Yale School of Medicine’s anesthesiology department, had behaved inappropriately with them.

The suit states that Fontes tried to forcibly kiss them, make inappropriate comments about their bodies and give them unwanted neck massages at work. Amongst the women who have come forward, one claims that she was berated by Fontes when his advances were resisted by her. However, all the allegations have been denied by Fontes through his attorney, NBC News reported.

As stated in the lawsuit, after Dr. Roberta Hines, chair of Yale's anesthesiology department, received a complaint from an assistant professor in 2018, regarding Fontes's discrimination against a woman because of her pregnancy had excused his behavior stating that he was "just being a boy." In another instance, when an anesthesiology resident in 2019 had filed a similar complaint stating that Fontes had made suggestive comments and gave her unwanted massages, Hines at that time too dismissed the woman's grievances saying that “boys will be boys".

Soon after the complaints were filed, Hines announced Fontes’ promotion to lead diversity efforts in the Yale University's anesthesiology department.

“It seems as though Yale has yet to take the same steps as the rest of society,” said one of the women's attorneys, Michael J. Willemin. He made the statement hinting towards the #MeToo movement's workplace wave.

Fontes has since backed down from leadership roles at Yale and is now only listed as one of the anesthesiology department's professors. The women in their suit seek an unspecified amount of damages from Fontes for battery, claims of assault and invasion of privacy, and from Yale University for violating the gender equality law Title IX.

Yale University
A professor at Yale University allowed students to skip their midterm exam due to overwhelming feelings towards the 2016 presidential election. Picture is Albert Arnold Sprague Memorial Hall at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, Nov. 28, 2012. Photo: Reuters