Alliance for Patient Safety

                            All that is necessary for the triumph of evil...
                                                                ... is for good men to do nothing.

                                                                                                   Edmund Burke

Retaliation Against Physicians - Satish Deshpande, MD

U.S. Court In New York Refuses To Dismiss Physician’s Retaliation Claims Against Hospital

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York refused to dismiss a physician's retaliation claims against the hospital where he was employed as an independent contractor after the hospital imposed conditions on his privileges following the physician’s filing of an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint against another hospital.

Plaintiff Dr. Satish Deshpande contracted for over ten years for medical privileges as an attending physician at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.

During this time, on December 31, 2004, plaintiff was terminated from a salaried position at TJH Medical Services, P.C. Plaintiff filed a complaint with the EEOC regarding that termination and in June 2005, he filed a federal lawsuit against TJH alleging violations of his civil rights with respect to his termination.

On June 17, 2005, plaintiff applied for renewal of his privileges at Jamaica Hospital. David Rosen, the President of Jamaica Hospital, instead informed plaintiff that his privileges had been renewed for one year subject to monitoring.

Plaintiff sued Medisys Health Network, Inc., Jamaica Hospital, and Rosen (collectively, defendants) claiming that the curtailment of his hospital privileges was in retaliation for his EEOC complaint and his prior federal action, in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, Section 296 of the New York Human Rights Law, and Section 8-107(1)(a) of the New York City Human Rights Law.

Defendants moved to dismiss. As an initial matter, the court rejected defendants’ argument that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction because plaintiff's retaliation claim fell under the primary jurisdiction of the New York Public Health Council. According to the court, plaintiffs’ claims “do not establish that reliance on administrative expertise will be necessary for resolution of this case.”

Turning to the Title VII claim, the court pointed to facts such as plaintiff’s filing of an EEOC claim, and his allegation that the one-year renewal and monitoring were not imposed on similarly situated physicians.

Rejecting defendants’ argument that the conditions imposed on plaintiff were not "materially adverse" employment actions, the court found that, if the monitoring conditions and his one-year renewal were imposed selectively and without explanation, as plaintiff alleged, “a reasonable worker could well conclude that the action was taken in response to his prior complaints of discrimination.”

Thus, "[a]lthough this is a close call, the court cannot conclude at this stage of the litigation that Plaintiff has failed to put Defendants on notice of his retaliation claim against them or that he has failed 'to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'"

The court also found the EEOC report and lawsuit and the renewal of plaintiff’s hospital privileges were sufficiently close in time so as to establish a causal connection. Deshpande v. Medisys Health Network, Inc., No. 07-CV-375 (NGG) (VVP) (E.D.N.Y. May 7, 2008).