Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Former GU Scientists Allege Abuse

MEDICAL CENTER Former GU Scientists Allege Abuse By Charlotte Nichols Hoya Staff Writer

Two researchers in the Department of Radiation Medicine filed complaints of discrimination and abuse six weeks ago to the Department of Human Resources, claiming they were made to feel uncomfortable, pushed to work excessive hours and not fairly paid.

Kyung Song and Sook Jung Jeong decided to file reports of their experiences in the research lab to the university. The university has declined to comment.

“We don’t discuss personnel matters publicly,” Director of Communications for the Medical Center Amy deMaria said.

The two, who were hired by a doctor in research cancer and radiation-related diseases, met with her in Korea before accepting positions in the Georgetown lab.

According to Song, every time they have gone back to human resources in the past six weeks to get a response, they have been told, “we’re investigating.”

“Their answers are always the same,” she said. “I just want to let people know what happened. I want her to give us a formal apology.”

“She offered me a research fellow position, but she mentioned that she would not pay me a salary right away,” Song said. “She said that she would pay me a salary when I could show her that I really worked hard and informed me that it was really up to me.”

Song was paid after two months of working in the lab and Jeong was paid after five.

More important than the issue of salary, however, were the conditions under which they were forced to work, Song said.

“During my time there, I was forced to work unconscionable hours, made to feel uncomfortable and was put under a lot of undue stress,” Song said. “She gave me so many things to do I could not work on all of them at the same time. She never once commended me; rather she said that I did not work hard enough. It was her way of pressuring and harassing me.”

Song said she felt she could not hold a conversation with the doctor because she would be unreasonable and would push her to answer questions that made her uncomfortable.

Song said that after working in the lab for 23 months, she found a new job last December. When she informed the doctor of her departure, she was pushed to answer questions about her new boss and new lab, which made Song feel like she was “doubting me.”

“She told me she could not believe my behavior [and that] my leaving was childish. She blamed me for leaving without discussion with her. She said I was leaving because I had problems such as data conflicts,” Song said.

Even though Song realized the situation was uncomfortable from the start, it had taken her nearly a year to find a new job because most of the labs required reference letters from a boss, which Song could not provide because that was the reason she wanted to leave in the first place.

Jeong said she endured her boss’ treatment for three years because of several promises she had made to her. The doctor had promised to help Jeong change her visa status from a J-1 visa to an H1-B visa, according to Jeong.

Jeong applied for the H1-B visa after having already worked two and a half years for her boss. Jeong was permitted to use a manuscript that she had participated in creating in the bibliography of her visa application. The paper was based on a presentation Jeong had worked on for the Radiation Research Society’s 47th Annual Meeting.

The doctor then said she would like to give Jeong a vacation to Korea because she had not visited in three years. She suggested Jeong go until the H1-B visa was approved, according to Jeong.

“I had planned to return to Georgetown University to work, so I left many of my belongings like my car, furniture, books and bank accounts in America. After two months [in Korea], I received a letter from [the doctor],” Jeong said.

The letter explained that a grant for Jeong’s research did not get funded and that her boss could no longer support Jeong’s position in the lab. In addition, the doctor said she had withdrawn Jeong’s visa application.

“After I got the dismissal notice from [the doctor], I found that the paper had been printed without my name,” Jeong said.

Jeong had to wait for a new visa before coming back to America to pack up her things. Then she began to look for another job in Korea.

“As you know, [a] paper being publish[ed] is very important to a scientist. The paper shows how much I work and what kind of research I did. I can get a good job or not depending on my paper [being] published. But [the doctor] told me my results were not enough to publish. I got the unfair dismissal notice and had to leave without any paper and any preparation of my future,” Jeong said.

In addition, Jeong was regarded on the record as not having worked during the first five months in the lab when she had been working ten hours a day with no salary, she said.

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