Nurse alleges sexism at ASH

January 14, 2016

ASHIn a civil trial underway at the Paso Robles Courthouse, a former Atascadero State Hospital nurse is alleging her former supervisor discriminated against women and left her alone with ASH patients in dangerous situations. [Tribune]

Janet Ochotorena, 53, was hired as a nurse in 2008.  Four years later, psychiatric technician Alfred Sweet became her supervisor.

According to the 2014 lawsuit, Sweet then began leaving Ochotorena alone with patients in showers, as well as in a hallway where six patients surrounded her.

ASH policy requires employees to work in groups of at least three at all times.

Ochotorena reported Sweet’s actions to his supervisor, but Sweet’s supervisor took no action, according to the lawsuit.

After Ochotorena complained, Sweet allegedly said, “See what happens to female staff that don’t listen or do what I say.” Ochotorena also claims Sweet told her coworkers, “everyone knows what a bitch Janet is.”

Additionally, she alleges her supervisors said, “The last woman to mess with me I had moved off the unit.”

Ohcotorena was, as well, transferred to another unit, where Sweet’s supervisors became her supervisor.

Around that time, Sweet began stalking Ochotorena in the ASH parking lot, she claims. Sweet allegedly would wait until Ochotorena got out of her car and then enter the state hospital.

The plaintiff’s attorney says Ochotorena went on medical leave in May 2013 and has not since been cleared to return to work.

On Tuesday, a former co-worker of Ochotorena testified. Psychiatric technician James Clark said Sweet was flippant and demanding with women and more friendly with male staff.

Clark testified he witnessed Ochotorena left alone with patients under Sweet’s supervision. Clark also agreed Sweet’s sexist attitude created safety issues for female workers.

In the lawsuit, Ochotorena is alleging sex and gender discrimination, harassment and retaliation. She also claims the Department of State Hospitals did not take action against Sweet.

The Department of State Hospitals claims Ochotorena has not proved that any of the incidents she alleged to have occurred actually happened. The state also argues Ochotorena’s emotional or mental distress was caused either by pre-existing conditions or something outside the scope of her employment.


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16 Comments

  1. CentralcoastRN says:

    How many male nurses living on the central coast do you know that are willing to work at ASH?. Ready…..GO.

    The staff are given something like a life alert pen that calls for help. If someone left me alone in a shower with 6 sexually violent predators, I would have pressed it before he walked away. I wouldn’t want to be alone with those guys not only because they are SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATORS, but because they would probably say I HARASSED THEM so they could get some extra candy or some crap.

    Safety rumors amongst nursing staff have been going around for several years now. They pay nurses one of the highest pay rates in the area, but it is icky, and I am not sure about now, but there have been times where nurses were forced to work double shifts and no one cared if they didn’t have daycare for their kids for that second shift. Not to mention that it is dangerous and obviously women need to be home making sandwiches and baking; I mean, it is so cheap living the central coast “lifestyle” and all…….

    (0) 14 Total Votes - 7 up - 7 down
  2. Pelican1 says:

    What do you really expect when the lunatics are running the asylum???
    Sad.

    (10) 20 Total Votes - 15 up - 5 down
  3. achillesheal says:

    The joys of government employment where the disgruntled sue the mediocre and the taxpayer foots the bill.

    What a country!

    (14) 30 Total Votes - 22 up - 8 down
  4. Jorge Estrada says:

    In jobs that require inmate or inmate/patient contact, it is my belief that there should be like gender employment. Simply put, men institutions, men employees for said jobs and for women institutions, women employees for said jobs. Oh yes for G,L,T and Bruce Jenner whatever, the same for the staffing. The object is to not bait for discrimination costs on the taxpayers and help everyone,” feel like one.” barf, barf, but that is simple math, no emotion logic.

    (12) 32 Total Votes - 22 up - 10 down
    • audidriver2010 says:

      Do you really think that making institutions like that will have ANY effect?? Do you really think men wont hurt men and women wont hurt women??

      (-6) 12 Total Votes - 3 up - 9 down
      • topper01 says:

        How many institutions do you know of where men supervise female inmates taking showers? Yes, it is discrimination to allow females to supervise male inmates and not males to supervise female inmates!

        (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down
        • audidriver2010 says:

          I think you live a fantasy world.. I realize that making it same sex might curb some violence.. but if ANY of you think it will go away forever.. your all wrong!!
          Just because its same sex doesn’t mean its going fix everything.. men and women will still do what they want, allow drugs in so they get paid, allow inmates to hurt other, etc etc

          (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
  5. tictac1 says:

    I’d say you’re right on the money, up until that last statement. If what Janet and James are saying is true, that’s clear-cut harassment.

    Anyone with a state job knows the drill; or any big corporation for that matter. Sweet may not like the fact that women are hired to do a man’s job (his perspective) but that doesn’t give him the right to take it out on the women! Come on!

    Casting Sweet as a victim here is a joke, unless the whole thing is a fabrication. Could be, lawsuits in this country are lucrative.

    (15) 17 Total Votes - 16 up - 1 down
    • mej says:

      I cast him as a victim because he is an older guy who hasn’t had enough brainwashing. It takes time to change everybody in a culture.

      It’s fairly common knowledge that children are the needed pieces to make all of the newer cultural changes. If you can indoctrinate children from a young age, they will be able to shut out their reality and accept the programming. That is why the new version of sex ed in CA took effect on Jan 1.

      It’s all about indoctrination. AND I don’t think Alfred had enough. Most old guys Alfred’s age who are straight were raised in a different culture. Alfred was experiencing confusion. His rational mind knows that women working in ASH put him in danger, and that overwhelmed his limited indoctrination of being politically correct.

      I would think that squelching reality is difficult for those who haven’t been doing it there entire life. That is why I think Alfred is a victim of the system run amok.

      (-3) 25 Total Votes - 11 up - 14 down
      • tictac1 says:

        Again assuming the story is correct- if Alfred is an older guy, he was raised to open doors for women, say “yes ma’am, no ma’am”, like myself; not act like a power-tripping A-hole. We were raised to act like gentlemen, not put women in showers with perverts.

        Although I agree with you entirely about the indoctrination, most of us who have jobs that depend on pretending can do it, at least for our shift. Squelching reality, I mean. If he can’t fake it at work, he should get another job, not treat women like they deserve less respect than a man. If what they are saying is true, he put HER in danger, not the other way around. He ain’t no gentleman…

        (7) 13 Total Votes - 10 up - 3 down
      • lays says:

        I’m not sure some of the commentators who are regarding Sweet as a “victim” (laughable), quite understand the seriousness of the situation, sexism or not this is clear cut harassment, and as far as I’m concerned employee endangerment! Lets not forget that these are not patients these are inmates with violent criminal pasts. We are talking about an employee being left alone with rapists, murderers, sex offenders etc. THIS IS WRONG bottom line. For anyone to lose sight of that just because are society is so focused on victim shaming and blaming is shameful.

        (7) 11 Total Votes - 9 up - 2 down
    • CentralcoastRN says:

      It all depends on hospital policy. 6 inmates should never be left alone with just one staff member, male or female.

      (12) 14 Total Votes - 13 up - 1 down
  6. mej says:

    I am feeling a bit of political INcorrectness coming on. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

    Women and Men are different.

    Women and Men have different physical abilities.

    Hiring women for certain positions because of political correctness puts everyone in danger. ie. where physical strength is needed. HELLO!!!

    Women should have opportunities and equal pay and equal rights, but at some point Common Sense needs to prevail. It won’t, and there will be h8ters to this post.

    Alfred is a victim of the system gone amok.

    (2) 34 Total Votes - 18 up - 16 down
    • zaphod says:

      Men and wombmen are different? Say it isnt so!

      (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
    • bobfromsanluis says:

      “Alfred is a victim of the system gone amok.”

      Wow- I suppose you also blame women who get raped as “asking for it”?

      Alfred, IMO, is not a victim, if the allegations here are correct, Alfred is a BIG part of the problem. If you are in a supervisory position and you have workers under your direction that you have a personality clash, or you simply don’t believe that they can do the job to your standards, you need to bend over backwards to make sure that you fault them on their perceived shortcomings, not on their gender, sexual preference or religious affiliation. In other words, do your job to the letter of the definition; anything else is either being lazy or just plain mean.

      (1) 9 Total Votes - 5 up - 4 down

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