By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On November 7, 2022, a former surgical technician hit a Georgia urology practice with a federal discrimination lawsuit, claiming it denied him a raise after complaining that a co-worker threatened him because of his sexuality. The plaintiff sued Georgia Urology, P.A., alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and various state laws. He said that in addition to harassment from co-workers, management denied him a predetermined raise after he complained about an unnecessary, unlawful disclosure of his medical history and denied him overtime pay. He is seeking back pay and future pay (front pay), lost benefits, and other damages.
Alleged Ongoing Harassment.
Georgia Urology hired the former surgical tech in July 2020, and shortly after this, he alleges that his co-workers started referring to him using slurs concerning his sexual orientation. After he reported the statements to the operations director, the interim director of the practice, and the CEO, they told him if he was that unhappy at work, he should find a new job, according to the complaint.
Additionally, as part of his onboarding procedure with the medical practice, the plaintiff was required to take a blood test. According to the complaint, the director of ambulatory surgery centers asked a nurse manager to administer the test and send the results to a lab. In early November 2020, the nurse manager contacted the lab using her company credentials and asked for the plaintiffs’ lab information. But she said she was calling concerning a patient, rather than an employee, of Georgia Urology, he alleged. As a result, the lab disclosed his diagnosis to her, which he said was not a necessary term of employment. The complaint did not indicate any diagnosis.
He reported the breach of privacy to the urology practice’s director of people operations, but she was never disciplined for her actions. Instead, according to the complaint, the nurse manager denied his automatic pay raise several days after, even though he had completed the 90-day probationary period. Furthermore, she later asked him how he was even hired given his diagnosis, he claims later in his complaint.
Alleged Retaliatory Behavior From Co-Workers.
Later in November 2020, he said the nurse manager issued a write-up for an alleged incident that had occurred several weeks before his reporting her for obtaining his medical files. The former surgical tech said the retaliatory write-up was removed from his file, but the defendant never disciplined her for issuing the write-up.
In early December 2020, he again complained to management about the ongoing harassment. In response, the practice agreed to give him his raise on the condition that he “stop whining so much,” but he claims he never received the raise, according to the complaint.
The defendant eventually fired the plaintiff on December 17, 2020, for allegedly creating a staff shortage when he was out sick, even though the practice was not short-staffed. You can read the complaint in this case in full here.
To read about a similar case involving a pharmacist, click here to read one of our prior blogs.
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Wargo, Abbey. “Ex-Surgery Tech Accuses Urology Practice Of Anti-Gay Bias.” Law360. (November 7, 2020). Web.
Ferrier, Valerie. “Bias Ruling Spotlights Confusion Over Protected Categories.” Law360. (August 25, 2020). 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. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.
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