Sparrow Health System CEO Placed on Administrative Leave Following Accusations of Sexual Assault

Sparrow Health System CEO Placed on Administrative Leave Following Accusations of Sexual Assault

The Sparrow Health System recently put its CEO, Emory Tibbs Jr. on paid leave after a former employee accused him of sexual assault and solicitation. The incident in question is recorded on video, and it has lead to a $10-million-dollar lawsuit.

Emory Tibbs Jr. was once the CEO of Virginia-based Centra Health. Sparrow Health System, which is headquartered in Michigan, appointed Tibbs as CEO on the strength of his work at Centra. Upon the announcement of his new role, Sparrow praised him on its website, “Most recently, he served as President and CEO of Centra Health, a Virginia-based integrated hospital and healthcare delivery system with more than 8,500 employees. He spearheaded efforts in Patient safety, quality, employee engagement, and technology and financial growth there.”

Sparrow’s views on Tibbs were surely altered after Stephanie Hale, a former Centra employee,  filed a lawsuit against him, other Centra executives, and Centra Health System itself.

Hale, a licensed nurse, met Tibbs during a training session shortly after joining Centra. She alleges the former CEO obtained her email from her employee record and proceeded to send her sexually charged messages. According to the lawsuit, Tibbs identified himself as Ethan Toms in the emails.

Hale claims she made it clear to Toms that she was not interested. When she mentioned receiving messages from Toms to a coworker, the other woman said she was also receiving the same type of messages from “Ethan Toms.” After the coworker played an audio message from Toms for her, Hale says she realized Toms was none other than Tibbs.

How video of Tibbs misbehaving with Hale came to be is an interesting and rather unusual story. According to the complaint, Hale had a boyfriend who did not believe her that she didn’t know who was hiding behind “Ethan Toms.”

The boyfriend, whose last name is Peters, began texting Toms back, pretending to be Hale. When his girlfriend learned Toms was Tibbs, Peters confronted him about it in his messages, still impersonating Hale.

Shortly after, Hale began to be continuously summoned by her employer for drug tests. Although the tests were negative, she was eventually fired. Hale alleges that a coworker pointed in the direction of Tibbs’ office when she asked why she was being harassed with the tests. The implication, she says, is that Tibbs was personally requesting them.

Peters then continued to impersonate Hale, and he set an appointment with Toms, agreeing to an exchange of sex for money. According to the complaint, the idea was to set a trap for Tibbs. Hale and Tibbs met at a hotel. Before Peters and a cameraman could go into the room where Tibbs believed Hale was going to have sex with him, the then CEO allegedly touched the woman against her will and injured her when she tried to lock herself in the bathroom. Video of Peters entering the room and Tibbs brandishing a wad of bills has been published online.

Sparrow Health System, which boasts over 900 affiliated physicians, has reacted with caution. "These allegations are disturbing to us, and we are taking immediate action... All nurses and healthcare professionals, patients, and workers have the unequivocal right to be respected and to be able to perform our jobs without fear of harassment. Sparrow Hospital should not tolerate sexual assault at any level," Sparrow said in a statement.

An important aspect one must point out, in this case, is that Hale has, in fact, once been charged with possession of illegal drugs. Before #Metoo, her claims might have been dismissed simply because of that. Today we have understood that all sexual harassment allegations must be investigated, and whether Hale acted improperly or not, the video from that hotel room proves Tibbs certainly did.

Although the former CEO has not been fired, it is a testimony to the Zeitgeist that he has been forced to step down, albeit temporarily. As statistics reveal that sexual harassment is rampant in medicine, healthcare providers have begun to take the issue more seriously. The recent launch of Time’s Up Healthcare is certainly a step in that direction.

Do you think were harassed or sexually assaulted at work or by a co-worker? Visit our workplace harassment FAQ page for more information. Ready to see if you have a case? Contact us online or by phone at 877.858.8018. All inquiries are protected by the attorney-client privilege and kept CONFIDENTIAL. (There is never a fee for a consultation.)

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Related topics: sexual harassment (34) | workplace harassment (25)


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