Sunday, February 10, 2013

Doctor receives $7 million gender discrimination settlement

The former chief of anesthesia at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center will receive one of the largest gender discrimination settlement payments in Massachusetts history. According to the Boston Globe, Carol Warfield, M.D., who became chief of anesthesia in 2000, alleged that Dr. Josef Fischer, former surgery chief, discriminated against her because she is a woman by ignoring her in meetings and lobbying for her ­removal from her job. She also alleged that she she complained to Beth Israel Chief Executive Paul Levy, both men retaliated against her and forced her out. 

The settlement is unusual for several reasons, not the least of which is the size of the payment. Unlike most employers who settle such cases, Beth Israel agreed to make certain facts of the settlement public. While it did not admit any wrongdoing, it allowed Dr. Warfield to publicize the amount of the settlement and agreed to name the hospital's new pain clinic after her. The hospital reportedly also agreed to sponsor an annual lecture series on women's health and the academic contributions of women in surgery. 

It is not possible to say with any accuracy how large this settlement is compared to most employment discrimination settlements, since the large majority remain confidential. It is likely that a major factor contributing to the size of the award was the plaintiff's income. As a physician and chair at a major city hospital, she likely earned a sizable salary which contributed to her settlement amount.