Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Court of Claims: Ohio State University Settles Doctor’s Age Discrimination Suit

Hall v. Wexner Med. Ctr., Case No. 2015-00038

Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has agreed to pay $100,000 in a settlement to a former doctor who alleged age discrimination following a 2014 demotion. The university disputes the doctor’s claims and admits no wrongdoing in the case, in which the doctor initially sought more than $1 million.

Doctor Argues New Chair Favored Younger Faculty
Dr. Nathan C. Hall joined the university in 2004 as an assistant professor in the College of Medicine’s radiology department and said he was promoted two years later to division chief of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging.

Hall asserted in his lawsuit that he met or exceeded professional expectations and received positive performance evaluations from his superiors until a new department chair, Dr. Richard D. White, was appointed in 2010. Hall alleged that White wanted to withdraw certain financial support from faculty who were older than 40, and Hall was 41 at the time White came on board. In addition, Hall claimed the department chair expected him to generate certain amounts of income and meet specific metrics that were beyond the requirements of his employment agreements.

In 2013, Hall filed a complaint with the university, alleging discrimination, harassment, and retaliation by White. In April 2014, Hall was removed from his division chief position. The radiology department replaced him with a doctor who Hall described as “substantially younger” and lacking his experience.

Hall resigned from Ohio State in August 2014, stating in court documents that he was “[u]nhappy with OSU’s investigation, unable to continue working in a hostile work environment wherein he was subject to unlawful age discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, and fearful of imminent termination.”

University States Doctor Demoted for Job Performance Reasons
In the January 2015 lawsuit filed in the Ohio Court of Claims, Hall asserted age discrimination under federal and state law, breach of contract, and other claims. He asked to be compensated for pay and benefits he would have earned if the discrimination hadn’t occurred, punitive damages of more than $1 million for malicious and reckless conduct, and other costs.

The university noted in its answer that it believes White has immunity from this lawsuit. On the other claims, the university stated that Hall at various times received negative feedback about his job performance and didn’t fulfill his job requirements. The university maintained that it removed Hall from the division chief position because he didn’t meet job performance standards, and that White had “legitimate, non-discriminatory, and non-retaliatory reasons for every action he took in his role as [c]hair of the [r]adiology [d]epartment.”

Parties Agree to Settlement
Before the case went to trial, the parties instead agreed that the medical center would pay Hall $100,000 with no interest. The Court of Claims approved the settlement on Sept. 15, dismissing the case with prejudice and stating that the medical center will pay court costs.

Court of Claims Handles Lawsuits Against State
The Court of Claims is given original jurisdiction to hear and determine all civil actions filed against the state, which includes state colleges and universities. To access information on other cases, visit the Court of Claims website.

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