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And that does not justify workplace harassment, he says.
While Scottsdale Memorial Health Systems does not admit in court papers to workplace harassment, it does concede that several troubling incidents occurred.
In 1992, for instance, a co-worker sprayed Dela Rosa with what he says was Freon, causing a burn that required medical attention. The hospital, while refusing to admit that Dela Rosa was burned, acknowledges that the employee sprayed Dela Rosa; that employee was "verbally counseled."
A short while later, Dela Rosa claims, someone glued "bottles and other items" to the shelf above his workbench; one bottle broke when he took it from the shelf and the contents spilled. The hospital denies this, but allows that Dela Rosa complained about the incident to management, which did not take action because no culprit could be found.
Dela Rosa claims he was the subject of numerous other humiliating workplace incidents, including the joke about shooting Mexicans, the removal of a bolt from his workbench and derisive comments from co-workers regarding his work performance.
The hospital admits the joke about Hispanics was told, but says it was not disparaging. It admits the bolt on the workbench was "loosened," but denies that humiliating comments were made. The hospital also denies Dela Rosa's contention that his tires were punctured and that someone had put something foul in his coffee.
Dela Rosa believes the hospital is raising his war experience as a diversionary tactic, and he worried about what could happen if the hospital is successful in making it an issue.
"This case could set a precedent," he says. "If they win, no one will hire a vet for the simple reason that they can call him a psycho just because he fought in a war.