Cardiothoracic surgeon claims discrimination in lawsuit against Oregon hospital

A cardiothoracic surgeon has filed suit against St. Charles Health System, accusing the Bend, Ore.-based system of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act when he was fired in November, according to The Bulletin.

In his federal lawsuit, John Blizzard, MD, claims St. Charles failed to accommodate his mental impairment, discriminated against him and unlawfully required him to undergo psychological testing. He further claims he was fired from the system because of behavioral issues stemming from his disability.

After St. Charles officials recognized Dr. Blizzard was having interpersonal problems, the system required him to undergo a psychological evaluation. The psychologist found Dr. Blizzard had mental impairments that limited his ability to interact with others, regulate emotional responses and deal with personal and professional stress. However, Dr. Blizzard was found fit to continue his career as a cardiothoracic surgeon.

Dr. Blizzard alleges experts recommended that St. Charles hire a behavioral coach to help him manage his condition and hold meetings to evaluate his performance. Instead of acting on those recommendations, the system allegedly withheld the psychological report from Dr. Blizzard and continued to increase his stress levels while on the job.

Dr. Blizzard claims St. Charles knew his behavioral issues were the product of his disability at the time of his termination.

In his lawsuit, Dr. Blizzard seeks $1.5 million in past and future economic damages, $3 million for emotional distress, mental anguish, embarrassment and damage to his reputation and $10 million in punitive damages. He also asks to be reinstated to his former position.

A St. Charles spokeswoman declined The Bulletin's request for comment on the pending litigation. In November, the system declined to disclose the reason Dr. Blizzard was fired.

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