AdventHealth: DISCRIMINATION IN HIGH PLACES

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By Attorney Jerry Girley    
On Friday (05/21/21), a majority white jury awarded a Black doctor $2.75 million after finding that AdventHealth, formally Florida Hospital, discriminated against him on his race. However, the struggle continues as AdventHealth has pledged to appeal this just verdict, and we are calling upon you to help.

Typically, when we think about the impacts and the targets of racism and discrimination, we think of police brutality in the inner city, or an unfair criminal justice system. Black people at the higher levels of society do not immediately come to mind.

However, the dangers of racism and discrimination reach well beyond the boundaries of the inner city and the acts of brutality committed against Black people are not limited to physical acts. There are acts of psychological, emotional, and economic brutality inflicted upon Black professionals that often fly beneath the national and the local radar.

In my practice as a Civil Rights Lawyer, I have had the privilege of representing three intellectually gifted and highly credentialed doctors who each were employed by Advent Health. They were subjected to employment discrimination based upon their race and stereotypical perceptions of their innate intellectual capacity.

Most recently Dr. Baiywo Rop, a Kenyan native, came to Orlando to participate in AdventHealth's Diagnostic Radiology Residency Program. Dr. Rop excelled in his first year as a resident. However, he began to experience issues when he was diagnosed with a B-12 deficiency. He made the program director and other managers aware of his medical condition. However, the director and the associate director interpreted his problems through the lens of race and concluded that he simply lacked the intellectual capacity to successfully complete the residency program.

For example, one of the symptoms of Rop's B12 deficiency was chronic red eyes, and one of the faculty members told Dr. Rop he needed to stop smoking so much weed and do the work. Rop testified that Bancroft, the program director altered his performance records. She underreported the amount of work he completed, and when he asked to see the documentation, she denied him access. She also told him to go back to Africa to finish his residency.

According to the trial testimony of the associate director, Dr. Rop's intellectual skill set was not a, "good fit for the Diagnostic Radiology program". The truth is, however, other black doctors like Dr. Rop, were quite capable of performing at the level of their White colleagues and in some cases they performed at a higher level than their White colleagues.

 

Related Story from WFTV: Jury determined that race was a factor in firing of Doctor. 

 

AdventHealth's upper-level administration attempted to persuade him to change his studies to a less rigorous, and less paid, residency programs such as Family Practice. When Rop declined and expressed a desire to complain to HR he was told, "If you file a grievance, we will terminate you, and you don't have enough resources to fight Florida Hospital (Adventist Health)."

Dr. Rop did complain, and he was subsequently terminated. He filed a lawsuit against the giant hospital system, alleging discrimination based on his national origin, his race, his disability and because of retaliation.

During the jury selection process AdventHealth made a concerted effort to block nearly all Black people from serving on the jury. Their efforts were largely successful. The jury consisted of six individuals: four White people, one Hispanic person and one Black person who was placed on the jury only after a White person failed to show up for the trial. This majority White jury heard all of the evidence and determined that AdventHealth discriminated against Dr. Rop because of his race. They awarded him $2.75 million.

But now a different struggle begins for him. AdventHealth has a lawful right to appeal the verdict. They have pledged to do exactly that. The people of this community and all those who regard themselves to be allies of justice and inclusion must communicate to AdventHealth that they expect it to right this injustice immediately. They must reinstate Dr. Rop to the Diagnostic Radiology Residency Program and pay him the $2.75 million that a jury of their peers awarded him.

The cautionary message that emerges from the case of Dr. Rop is that no Black person, regardless of education, is insulated from the continuing penalty and the inescapable burden that is assigned to being Black in America.

Therefore, all Black people and all allies of justice must stand up against racial injustice wherever and whenever it rears its ugly head. I am personally asking that anyone who reads this article to call, text, email or otherwise get in touch with the directors of AdventHealth to communicate your support for Dr. Rop and other Black medical professionals and to insist that they take immediate action to remedy the wrong that was done to him.JerryGirley bio

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