This CPPPH newsletter aims to keep readers abreast of current developments and relevant information about physician health and wellbeing in California.
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More Information About the Yale EEOC Suit Regarding Age-based Screening
In the last issue of this newsletter, we reported that amicus briefs had been filed on both sides of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lawsuit against Yale New Haven Hospital — the case that challenges the hospital’s plan to require an ophthalmologic and a neuropsychological medical examination of any medical staff member over 70 years of age when applying for reappointment. (See CPPPH Guideline “Assessing Late Career Practitioners: Policies and Procedures for Age-based Screening” 2015)
Now, Richard Barton of the law firm Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP in San Diego, informs us that that the case has been transferred to a new judge and a status conference with the new judge is scheduled for late September. Oral arguments are the next step, and we await a date to be set for them.
We follow this case closely because we know that many health care institutions have put on hold any programs or plans they had to institute such a requirement.
The background from Mr. Barton: In February 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit alleging age and disability discrimination against Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) arising from the hospital’s “Late Career Practitioner Policy.” The case was filed in the United States District Court in Connecticut.
The YNHH policy was implemented in 2016 and requires any practitioner age 70 and older applying for appointment or reappointment to the YNHH Medical Staff to take both an ophthalmologic and a neuropsychological medical examination. The EEOC brought the claim on behalf of “aggrieved” members of the medical staff required to undergo the screening. The EEOC Complaint alleged that the screening requirement for only those over 70 years old violates the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). It also alleged that subjecting practitioners to a medical examination without a suspected medical condition or impairment relating to a job function violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
YNHH has vigorously defended the program and produced national experts to testify regarding the science demonstrating the effects of aging on physician performance and patient safety. YNHH has pointed to the myriad professions and occupations in which federal, state and local governments mandate retirement at specified ages, all in the name of public safety. It also cited the longstanding federal and state court case law supporting both mandated retirement and age based physical examination requirements for pilots, air traffic controllers, law enforcement, bus drivers and other public safety related occupations.
In March 2023, after months of discovery conducted by the EEOC and YNHH which included the depositions of the experts on both sides, each side filed written Motions for Summary Judgment asking the District Court to enter judgement in their favor. Oral arguments in support of these “dispositive” motions have not yet been heard by the Court.
In April, CPPPH joined with two other groups in the Amicus Brief filed by the Procopio firm in support of YNHH. In June 2023, the EEOC submitted its own Amicus Brief with the AARP as its only signatory. On July 17, 2023, the case was transferred by the District Court to a new judge to hear all matters in the case going forward. As a result, there has been a delay in setting a date for oral arguments of the motions. From a practical standpoint, a new judge that takes over a matter in federal court must spend time reviewing the history and becoming familiar with the legal issues. As such, we are unsure of when oral arguments on the motions will be heard. There is a status conference with the new judge scheduled for later in September. Our hope is that the date for oral arguments will be set at that time.
We will continue to post updates in this newsletter.