A former medical assistant at Lehigh University’s health center has filed a federal lawsuit claiming she was fired after complaining about a campus doctor who gave students inappropriate breast exams and made lewd comments to staffers. Christine Feit, who was fired in May 2017, alleges that she repeatedly told a supervisor that Dr. Thomas Novak made vulgar remarks about her clothing and body as well as the bodies of students. She also complained to the supervisor about Novak, 51, performing inappropriate breast exams and attempting to give pelvic exams without wearing gloves, according to the lawsuit. Feit alleged that her supervisor once asked her if Novak was “copping a feel” with students, to which she replied, “yes.” The supervisor then said it was good it was the students’ first breast exam “so they wouldn’t know something was wrong,” the lawsuit states. Novak apologized after Feit and other staffers complained to the school’s human-resources officials about his alleged behavior in 2012 and 2016, but no further steps were taken, according to the lawsuit.
“We take allegations of harassment very seriously and make every effort to respond promptly and effectively. Though the university cannot comment on the specific allegations contained in this complaint, we plan to vigorously defend the matter,” Lehigh spokeswoman Lori Friedman said.