NEWS

August 2008

RESOLUTION OF THREE LAWSUITS DRAWS A CRITICAL
EYE TO PHYSICIANS AND GENDER DISCRIMINATION

Federal Court Cases Brodsky v. SUNY and Kaleida Health et al, and Brodsky
v. Kaleida Health Come to a Close to Satisfaction of the Parties.


Buffalo, NY — What does it mean when a distinguished doctor and tenured Professor of Otolaryngology and Pediatrics has spent the last nine and a half years fighting gender discrimination that she believes was imposed on her by New York State and her private employer? It means the same as it does for any woman in her position: There’s something seriously wrong with the system. Linda Brodsky, MD, Professor of Otolaryngology and Pediatrics (Retired), announced today the resolution of her almost ten-year fight with both the State University of New York ("SUNY") and Kaleida Health ("Kaleida").

Dr. Brodsky states that in 1997, after 14 years of working for SUNY and the Children’s Hospital of Buffalo/Kaleida, she serendipitously learned the salaries of some of her colleagues during a residency program review. A recently-hired male faculty member in Otolaryngology with lesser qualifications, responsibilities and seniority was being compensated by the University at twice her state salary. It appeared to Dr. Brodsky that junior staff physicians at Kaleida who had only a few administrative duties were receiving up to five times the compensation that she received while she was the administrative head of one of the busiest clinical services at the Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, a position she held for more than a decade.

In 2000, after more than two years of trying to resolve her gender and pay concerns internally, Dr. Brodsky resorted to filing charges of discrimination against SUNY and Kaleida with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These complaints resulted in seven "right to sue" letters being issued by the EEOC. One right-to-sue letter was issued for Dr. Brodsky’s initial charges of gender discrimination and six additional right-to-sue letters were issued in response to her charges of retaliation. After receiving the right-to-sue letters, Dr. Brodsky commenced a lawsuit against SUNY and Kaleida in the fall of 2001, claiming gender discrimination and retaliation. During the course of her lawsuit, Dr. Brodsky filed an additional charge with the EEOC, alleging further retaliation by Kaleida. Three weeks after this charge was filed, Kaleida fired Dr. Brodsky from her position as Chief of Pediatric ENT on February 2, 2007, a position she had held for almost 20 years. After receipt of a right to sue letter from the EEOC, Dr. Brodsky filed a second federal court lawsuit against Kaleida, alleging that the termination was retaliatory.

Between October 2007 and February 2008 the three lawsuits were resolved.

The terms of resolution for the cases are as follows.


SUNY resolution of Brodsky v. SUNY and Kaleida Health et al:
resolved December 27, 2007.
  • Cash payment to Dr. Brodsky in the amount of $740,000;

  • Forgiveness of what Dr. Brodsky calculates to be approximately $750,000 in disputed funds that were alleged to be owed by Dr. Brodsky to the university;

  • Retirement from SUNY, but without the right to append the term "emeritus" to her title; and

  • Full retirement benefits including lifetime health insurance for her and her spouse, library privileges, book and computer software discounts, etc. (valued at approximately $20,000/year for life).

Dr. Brodsky values the SUNY settlement as over $2 million.


Kaleida resolution of Brodsky v. SUNY and Kaleida Health et al ("Brodsky I")
[Claims of gender discrimination and retaliation], resolved February 2008.
  • The parties have resolved the litigation in a manner that is satisfactory to all concerned. The parties have agreed to keep the nature of the resolution confidential.


Brodsky v. Kaleida Health ("Brodsky II")
[Claims of discriminatory and retaliatory termination from Chief of Pediatric ENT], resolved October 2007.
  • The parties have resolved the litigation in a manner that is satisfactory to all concerned. The parties have agreed to keep the nature of the resolution confidential.

In 2003, during her 10-year battle, Dr. Brodsky brought home a win for the Union that covers SUNY professors, the United University Professionals, when she won a contract grievance to increase her own salary to the contractually mandated minimum for rank. (She was being paid 50% of the contractual minimum at the time the grievance was filed). A class action grievance was then brought by the Union against SUNY, which was successful, and provided the same salary adjustment for hundreds of faculty at all four SUNY medical schools — an outcome that is believed to have cost an estimated additional costs to SUNY of $8,000,000-12,000,000 per year in increased salaries for medical school faculty who were being paid less than the contractual minimum.

"This was an extremely difficult 10 year process, and I feel that I continue to face a seriously hostile environment. I have to believe what I did was the right thing to do," said Dr. Brodsky at the conclusion of litigation surrounding her cases. She added that “during my journey I have met other professional women in similar positions, and they should not have to fight these battles without the benefit of the experiences of someone who has been through the war and survived".

Dr. Brodsky now intends to use her experiences to help other women physicians who find themselves in the position she was in 10 years ago.

"I was fortunate to have the support of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) who believed in my case and helped to support me through this very dangerous process, and I am committed to helping other women overcome similar situations", says Dr. Brodsky.

Following almost ten years of research and insight into the prevailing, often unfair employment circumstances of women doctors, Dr. Brodsky has set forth on her mission to start an online educational resource center and social action community for women physicians who have been the victims of discrimination and retaliation based on gender.




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