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Former Belcourt hospital worker sues federal agency 4-3-07

MINOT, North Dakota (AP) - The former clinical director of the Quentin Burdick Memorial Health Care Facility in Belcourt says she was the victim of harassment and discrimination by doctors and administrators.

Dr. Penny Wilkie has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the federal Department of Health and Human Services, saying the agency failed to protect her from hostile working conditions.

The complaint accuses the hospital's chief administrative officer, Todd Bercier, of making ``sexually suggestive remarks'' to Wilkie, as well as ``threatening, intimidating and harassing remarks.''

Bercier could not be reached for comment Tuesday. He no longer works at the hospital, said a woman who answered the hospital phone and refused to give her name.

Wilkie said she complained about the conduct of a staff doctor, and Bercier retaliated by stalking, threatening and harassing Wilkie.

The regional office of Indian Health Service in Aberdeen, S.D., and Health and Human Services failed to act on Wilkie's complaints, the lawsuit said. Officials of those agencies could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

``Investigations were conducted and findings and reports issued that were false, slanderous and a cover-up that made plaintiff's working conditions intolerable and forced her to involuntary resign,'' Wilkie's complaint says.

Wilkie resigned from her job on March 17, 2006, the complaint says.

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