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Ex-UCLA Phlebotomist Awarded $1.6 Million in Harassment Lawsuit

Headshot of attorney George IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On August 7, 2019, a jury awarded almost $1.6 million to a woman who alleged she was fired for complaining about coworker’s subjecting her to racial insults and discriminatory comments at her job. Nicole Birden claimed that UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica, failed to investigate when supervisors harassed and insulted her and several other African-American employees. Additionally, she alleged that she was fired from her job as a phlebotomist after raising concerns about the issue, according to the verdict filed in  Los Angeles Superior Court.

Alleged Hostile Work Environment.

According to Birdnne’s complaint, she began working at UCLA Medical Center Santa Monica, as a phlebotomist in 2015. Shortly after, she claims coworkers made disparaging remarks about the color of her skin and racially stereotyped her in Spanish. In June of 2016, the UC Board of Regents abruptly terminated her employment despite the fact that she had never previously received any kind of disciplinary action against her.

Following her termination she filed a complaint in 2017, alleging that the UCLA Health created a hostile work environment. Additionally, she alleges that the University of California Board of Regents violated California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act for harassment, race and age discrimination, and retaliation, according to the complaint.

To read the verdict for this case in full, click here.

Click here to read one of my prior blogs that also deals with discrimination in the workplace.

Contact Health Attorneys Experienced in Health Law and Employment Law.

The Health Law Firm represents both employers and employees in the health care industry in defending allegations of employment discrimination and other complaints from employees and patients. We represent employers and employees in unemployment compensation hearings, in defending against EEOC (discrimination) complaints, and in defending litigation involving wage and hour disputes, as well as other types of contract or employment litigation. We also can investigate such allegations and attempt to negotiate settlements where warranted. Our attorneys represent individuals and institutions in litigation, civil or administrative, state or federal.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

“UC Regents to Pay $1.5 Million in Hostile Work Environment Case.” Associated Press. (August 7, 2019). Web.

Stawiki. Kevin. “Ex-UCLA Blood Tech Wins $1.6M In Racial Harassment Suit.” Law360. (August 7, 2019). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Legal representation for healthcare employee discrimination, legal representation for home health facilities, nursing home legal representation, home health care facility legal presentation, nursing law defense attorney, legal representation for discrimination in health facilities, intentional infliction of emotional distress lawyers, legal representation for physicians and health facilities accused of wrongdoing, defense lawyer for health facilities and doctors, legal representation for physicians, legal representation for nurses, legal representation for health care facilities, health care facility defense attorney, legal representation for sexual harassment and discrimination, employment law, legal representation for health employment matters, employment law defense attorney for health providers, unemployment compensation hearings for health facilities, defending health facilities against EEOC (discrimination) complaints, defending health facilities in litigation involving wage and hour disputes, legal representation for health and medical contract law, legal representation for medical and health contract litigation, legal representation for employment litigation in health facilities, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Former UCLA Phlebotomist Awarded Nearly $1.6 Million in Harassment Suit

Headshot of The Health Law Firm's attorney George F. Indest IIIBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On August 7, 2019, a jury awarded almost $1.6 million to a woman who alleged she was fired for complaining about coworker’s subjecting her to racial insults and discriminatory comments at her job. Nicole Birden claimed that UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica, failed to investigate when supervisors harassed and insulted her and several other African-American employees. Additionally, she alleged that she was fired from her job as a phlebotomist after raising concerns about the issue, according to the verdict filed in  Los Angeles Superior Court.

Alleged Hostile Work Environment.

According to Birdnne’s complaint, she began working at UCLA Medical Center Santa Monica, as a phlebotomist in 2015. Shortly after, she claims coworkers made disparaging remarks about the color of her skin and racially stereotyped her in Spanish. In June of 2016, the UC Board of Regents abruptly terminated her employment despite the fact that she had never previously received any kind of disciplinary action against her.

Following her termination she filed a complaint in 2017, alleging that the UCLA Health created a hostile work environment. Additionally, she alleges that the University of California Board of Regents violated California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act for harassment, race and age discrimination, and retaliation, according to the complaint.

To read the verdict for this case in full, click here.

Click here to read one of my prior blogs that also deals with discrimination in the workplace.

Contact Health Attorneys Experienced in Health Law and Employment Law.

The Health Law Firm represents both employers and employees in the health care industry in defending allegations of employment discrimination and other complaints from employees and patients. We represent employers and employees in unemployment compensation hearings, in defending against EEOC (discrimination) complaints, and in defending litigation involving wage and hour disputes, as well as other types of contract or employment litigation. We also can investigate such allegations and attempt to negotiate settlements where warranted. Our attorneys represent individuals and institutions in litigation, civil or administrative, state or federal.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

“UC Regents to Pay $1.5 Million in Hostile Work Environment Case.” Associated Press. (August 7, 2019). Web.

Stawiki. Kevin. “Ex-UCLA Blood Tech Wins $1.6M In Racial Harassment Suit.” Law360. (August 7, 2019). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida Substance Abuse Center Owner Gets 27 Years for Multi-Million Dollar Fraud Scheme

George IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On May 17, 2017, a Florida man who pled guilty to running a health care fraud scheme out of substance abuse treatment facilities he owned was sentenced to 27 years in prison. U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks, handed down the sentence to Kenneth Chatman who pled guilty in March 2017 to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of sex trafficking conspiracy.

Chatman admitted making millions of dollars by taking bribes and kickbacks to treat patients, fraudulently billing insurance companies and providing drugs to addicts so they would relapse in order to seek more treatment. His wife, Laura Chatman, was also allegedly in on the fraud scheme.

Details of the Scheme.

According to prosecutors, Chatman bribed owners of other sober homes to send their residents to get treatment at Reflections Treatment Center LLC in Margate, Florida, and Journey to Recovery LLC in Lake Worth, Florida. The payments were disguised as “case management fees, consulting fees, marketing fees and commissions.” The kickbacks were paid weekly, based on how many insured patients got treatment at the two facilities.

Prosecutors also said that patients were given unnecessary treatments and tests. These included DNA and allergy testing, even when there were no complaints of allergies, urine drug testing and saliva drug testing that was repetitive.

Illegal Kickbacks.

Patients received kickbacks in the form of reduced rent or other benefits to live in the sober homes. The benefits included treatments and drug tests that could be billed to their insurance, even though some of the residents continued to use drugs, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

If patients didn’t comply with the illegal processes, they were kicked out of the sober homes or otherwise intimidated or threatened with legal action, according to the Department of Justice. Kenneth Chatman also confiscated residents’ belongings, such as car keys, telephones, medications and food stamps.

Sex Trafficking Charge.

Additionally, Chapman was accused of forcing female patients and residents into prostitution, prosecutors said. He made them have sex at the facilities, hotels or motels for money and used that money as rent. Chatman provided drugs to the women to induce and encourage the prostitution.

Kenneth Chatman was ordered to register as a sex offender and given five years of probation following his incarceration for the sex trafficking charge. The judge also sentenced his wife, Laura Chatman, to three years in prison for her role in the scheme.

To read more on a similar case of health care fraud, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late; Consult with a Health Law Attorney Experienced in Medicare and Medicaid Fraud and Illegal Kickback Issues Now.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent healthcare providers in Medicare audits, ZPIC audits and RAC audits throughout Florida and across the U.S. They also represent physicians, medical groups, nursing homes, home health agencies, pharmacies, hospitals and other healthcare providers and institutions in Medicare and Medicaid investigations, audits, recovery actions and termination from the Medicare or Medicaid Program.

For more information please visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com or call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001.

Sources:

Bolado, Carolina. “Fla. Sober Home Owner Gets 27 Years For Fraud Scheme.” Law360. (May 18, 2017). Web.
“Florida sober homes owner gets 27+ years’ prison for fraud.” Fox 35 News. (May 18, 2017). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Health Care Fraud defense attorney, legal representation for health care fraud scheme, Medicare fraud defense attorney, legal representation for Medicare fraud, Medicaid fraud defense attorney, legal representation for Medicare investigation, legal representation for Medicaid investigation, legal representation for illegal kickbacks, illegal kickback scheme defense attorney, legal representation for accepting illegal kickbacks, legal representation for health care facility, legal representation for health care professionals, health care facility defense attorney, submitting false claims to the government, legal representation for submitting false claims, health law defense attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, The Health Law Firm reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Health Care Software Double-Bills Government For Anesthesia Services According to FCA Suit

George IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 2, 2017, a relator in a Florida federal False Claims Act (FCA) case, claimed that Epic Systems’ (Epic) health software wrongly defaults to double-billing for anesthesia services. As a result, the government is being overbilled by hundreds of millions of dollars, according to relator Geraldine Petrowski.

The Relator’s Allegations.

In an amended complaint, the relator alleges Epic billing software, used by hundreds of hospitals in the United States, defaults to charging for both the applicable “base units” for anesthesia provided on a procedure, as well as the actual time taken for the procedure. “This unlawful billing protocol has resulted in the presentation of hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent bills for anesthesia services being submitted to Medicare and Medicaid as false claims,” Petrowski said.

The relator served as WakeMed Health’s hospital liaison for the health care system’s implementation of Epic’s software in 2014. It was during that time in which she came across the anesthesia billing issues, and developed “major concerns” about incorrect billing, she said.

According to the complaint, she met with representatives of Epic to point out the double-billing issue, but was told that the issue is present in all other similar systems and that “everyone bills base units.” Following the meeting, Epic failed to correct its billing software, making it probable that at least most of its customers are continuing to double-bill for anesthesia services.

To read the amended complaint in full, click here.

False claims are a growing problem costing the government billions of dollars each year, and the government is not shy about striking back. Punishments for defrauding the system can be quite severe. To learn more about a similar case of overbilling, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Qui Tam or Whistleblower Cases.

Attorneys with The Health Law Firm also represent health care professionals and health facilities in qui tam or whistleblower cases both in defending such claims and in bringing such claims. We have developed relationships with recognized experts in health care accounting, health care financing, utilization review, medical review, filling, coding, and other services that assist us in such matters. We have represented doctors, nurses and others as relators in bringing qui tam or whistleblower cases, as well.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Wilson, Daniel. “Epic’s Software Double-Bills Gov’t For Anesthesia: FCA Suit.” Law360. (November 2, 2017). Web.

Fisher, John. “Agressive Anesthesia Billing Advice Can Be Costly.” Ruder Ware Health Law Blog. (January 12, 2012). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Legal representation for False Claims Act (FCA) cases, FCA defense attorney, legal representation for qui tam cases, qui tam defense attorney, legal representation for whistleblower lawsuits, whistleblower defense attorney, legal representation for health care fraud, health care fraud defense attorney, legal representation for overbilling, representation for fraudulent overbilling, legal representation for submitting false claims, legal representation for allegations of fraud, legal representation for health care audits, legal representation for health care facilities, health care facility defense attorney, legal representation for health care professionals, health professional defense attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, The Health Law Firm reviews, health law defense attorney
“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

Nursing Home Chain Hit With $1.5 Million Verdict in Sex Discrimination Lawsuit as Jury Sides with Former Employee

IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 2, 2017, a former elder care facility executive was awarded a $1.5 million verdict by a federal jury in Washington state. Irene Riggs claims she was fired for complaining about the “sexually charged” environment created by a supervisor’s inappropriate conduct with a nurse. After a three-day trial, the jury awarded her over $232,000 in lost wages up to the date of trial, nearly $802,000 in future lost wages and $500,000 for loss of enjoyment of life after she was fired by Tennessee-based Life Care Centers of America Inc. (Life Care).

Alleged Sex Discrimination.

In her suit, the plaintiff alleged that she was subjected to a “sexually charged atmosphere” by a regional vice president, who was her supervisor beginning in 2013, and a registered nurse with whom he was purportedly in a relationship. Riggs alleged the two fondled each other in an office and regularly engaged in intimate conversation, among other inappropriate things, according to court documents. Additionally, she complained on behalf of herself and colleagues about the conduct directly to the regional vice president, who allegedly became angry and later lodged a complaint with human resources.

In a pretrial brief, the plaintiff said that Life Care’s primary reason for firing her (mental abuse of a resident by unplugging his television) was not true and used as a cover for the real reason. In response, Life Care said that her firing couldn’t constitute discrimination. The company argued that she didn’t report a quid pro quo relationship or a hostile work environment, which are the two types of sex discrimination recognized by the Washington Law Against Discrimination.

She was employed at Life Care’s Sandpoint facility from September 2006 until she was fired on February 1, 2016.

The Jury’s Decision.

The jury determined that Riggs had provided sufficient evidence to show that she opposed what she believed was sex discrimination. Moreover, she was able to show that her report of alleged misconduct by a supervisor was a substantial motivating factor in her firing, and that Life Care didn’t offer a valid justification for her dismissal, according to the verdict.

To read the jury’s verdict in this case, click here.

To learn about a similar case involving sexual harassment and discrimination, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Contact Health Attorneys Experienced in Health Law and Employment Law.

The Health Law Firm represents both employers and employees in the health care industry in defending allegations of employment discrimination and other complaints from employees and patients. We represent employers in unemployment compensation hearings, in defending against EEOC (discrimination) complaints, and in defending litigation involving wage and hour disputes, as well as other types of contract or employment litigation. We also can investigate such allegations and attempt to negotiate settlements where warranted. Our attorneys represent individuals and institutions in litigation, civil or administrative, state or federal.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Gurrieri, Vin. “Nursing Home Chain Hit With $1.5M Verdict In Sex Bias Suit.” Law360. (November 2, 2017). Web.

“Nursing Home Chain Hit With $1.5M Verdict In Sex Bias Lawsuit.” Lexis Nexis. (November 2, 2017). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Legal representation for workplace discrimination, legal representation for employee discrimination, legal representation for nursing homes, legal representation for elder care facilities, legal representation for home health facilities, nursing home representation, home health care facility representation, nursing law defense attorney, elder care facility representation, legal representation for nurses, legal representation for health care facilities, health care facility defense attorney, legal representation for sexual harassment and discrimination, employment law, legal representation for employment matters, employment law defense attorney, unemployment compensation hearings, defending against EEOC (discrimination) complaints, defending litigation involving wage and hour disputes, legal representation for contract law, legal representation for contract litigation, legal representation for employment litigation, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.