Discrimination suit dismissed

On March 4, a district court dismissed allegations of racial and gender discrimination at the School of Medicine from former employee Anthony Craig, who was terminated in 2009, less than a year into his residency.

Craig, who is African-American, was hired on a one-year contract with Yale New Haven Hospital’s Obstetrics and Gynecology residency program in July 2008 and permanently dismissed in April 2009 for poor performance and lack of improvement. In his suit, Craig claimed that an unidentified physician called him “boy” three times in a 30-minute shift, that he felt uncomfortable socializing in the work environment and that supervisors inflicted intentional emotional distress on him. The claims were rejected by a Connecticut district court, but Martyn Philpot, Craig’s attorney, said Craig’s complaint has since been filed in state court.

“The [district] judge said the ‘record is replete’ with evidence of Craig’s poor performance,” said University spokesman Tom Conroy. “The judge also found the claim of discrimination to be unsupported.”

Court documents from the district case state that Yale showed a “legitimate, non-discriminatory reason” for Craig’s termination. Four months into Craig’s residency, 12 attending physicians submitted negative performance evaluations, with nine stating they would not be comfortable allowing Craig to manage patients with less supervision. Craig did not know basic facts about obstetrics, did not improve over time and appeared disinterested, according to one evaluation.

Despite being made aware of serious concerns over his performance, Craig continued to show a lack of progress, according to court documents. On one occasion, when a patient began hemorrhaging, Craig opted to give a nurse instructions over the phone rather than seeing the patient himself, later admitting that failing to treat the patient himself did impact the patient’s safety. Another time, Craig did not properly control the head of a baby during a delivery and caused a laceration. Further, employment records show that Craig had not worked on the particular day he claims he was called “boy” by a physician.

Craig was dismissed from the residency program for the first time in December 2008 for “egregious” performance and being a danger to patient safety. After he filed a grievance for dismissal without warning or probation, Craig was reinstated on a performance-improvement plan in February 2009. Craig was dismissed permanently after eight out of nine supervising physicians reported he had not passed his rotation. His vacancy was filled by an African-American female resident, according to court documents.

“Craig is below the level of third-year medical students that have been rotating in the clinic for a week,” one evaluation said. “He made up answers to questions he had not asked the patient and when probed further he would then say he had not asked [the] question.”

The School of Medicine, Craig claims, was a hostile work environment in which others made him feel isolated and did not engage him in conversation. In the case files, he said he was berated in front of patients and had his competence challenged on false pretenses. Craig began seeing a therapist after experiencing difficulty sleeping due to the emotional stress caused by the environment and stated that on at least two occasions he was “glad that [he] didn’t have a gun in the house.”

“While subjectively Dr. Craig may well have felt pressure, inhospitability and humiliation, there is insufficient objective evidence to support a reasonable conclusion that these occurrences were the product of discriminatory intent, or, taken together, were severe enough to permeate his workplace with discriminatory intimidation,” District Judge Janet Arterton stated in her Mach 4 ruling. “His hostile work environment claim fails.”

Court documents state the seven resident positions filled in 2008 included three African-Americans, selected from 363 candidates. Craig is the only African-American male terminated from the program in the last 10 years, except for a third-year resident whose resignation is disputed as possibly involuntary.

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