Dr. Steven Stuchin, a renowned 66-year-old orthopedic surgeon, has filed a lawsuit against his former employer alleging that he was the victim of age discrimination. The complaint, filed in the US District Court, Southern District of New York on October 17, 2016, states that the doctor’s superiors told him he was “too advanced in age to continue working.”
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) makes it unlawful to discriminate against any employee or job applicant because of age if the person is at least 40 years old. It states in part that,
“It shall be unlawful for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s age…” As is the case with other anti-discrimination statutes such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, harassment is also unlawful.
In the case of Dr. Stuchin, the Plaintiff-surgeon alleges that New York University discriminated against him by harassing, bullying and trying to force him to leave his job. If he can provide sufficient evidence, such behavior may amount to unlawful discrimination. Dr. Stuchin claims that he developed anxiety and lost tens of thousands of dollars of compensation because of harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
Dr. Stuchin, who has had a long and storied career working as a surgeon and as a consultant for various national organizations, most recently worked at Langone’s Center for Joint Diseases and New York University (NYU), where he was also a professor. His complaint against NYU alleges that his superiors embarked on “an intense campaign to remove [him] or force him to resign from NYU, all under the guise of patient safety.” Although the supervisors take the position that there were problems with Stuchin’s work, the Dr. claims he has never been the defendant in a malpractice suit and that there were no such problems.
Dr. Stuchin told the NY Post that his superiors advised him to give his cases to younger doctors because he was “in the twilight of his career.” The doctor further alleges that the hospital had “babysitters” oversee his cases and assigned him time-consuming work that forced him to cancel surgeries. Additionally, the hospital imposed months of monitoring including neurological tests, which he passed. Stuchin claims that the hospital went as far as to falsely tell patients that he did not perform the surgeries they were seeking, diverting work to other doctors.
Although Dr. Stuchin showed signs of a slight tremor in his left hand in 2013, the NYU Local reports that the chair people of the orthopedics department did not acknowledge this condition until after they began focusing on his age as it related to his work abilities. Stuchin stands firm that he was harassed and discriminated solely based on his age and not on any alleged problems that he was having performing his duties.
NYU’s response to the lawsuit thus far is to say that it is “baseless” and that it will vigorously defend the allegations of age discrimination. The outcome of the case may rest on whether NYU can prove that the decisions made about Stuchin’s position were based on his job performance.
Age discrimination can occur in many ways. Ask yourself,
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