Atkinson et al. v. Mount Sinai – Equity in healthcare

We represent eight current and former employees of the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City in a federal lawsuit, alleging sex, age and race discrimination by Mount Sinai and several of its employees arising out of misconduct at the Arnhold Institute for Global Health (“AIGH”). The lawsuit relies on federal (Title VII), state (New York State Human Rights Law) and New York City (NYC Human Rights Law) law.  

Protesters outside the Icahn School of Medicine, holding signs saying "justice for women" "equity now".
Protesters outside the Icahn School of Medicine – supporting our plaintiffs #EquityNowSinai campaign

The complaint describes the rise and fall of Dr. Prabhjot Singh, the former director of the Institute. He was appointed to this position at age 32, before he had finished his medical residency, by Dennis Charney, Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine. Singh immediately set about marginalizing and undermining female employees, especially women in senior leadership roles. He demoted them, defunded their established and effective programs and made their working lives miserable until they were finally forced out. In return, Dr. Singh hired younger, male friends and contacts from his network despite their lack of experience in global health. Other female plaintiffs were regularly skipped over in meetings where all the men got to speak, and paid less than their male colleagues despite excellent qualifications and equal or greater job responsibilities. One of Dr. Singh’s hires, also named as a defendant, was known for violent screaming at female subordinates, audible to everyone in the office including Singh, but was never reprimanded. Singh also did nothing to curb a male employee who repeatedly denigrated a colleague of Pakistani origin by saying in the man’s office “smells like curry,” and who also regularly called female colleagues “bitches” and “cunts.”

Singh was removed from his position, but remains employed by Mount Sinai. The litigation is ongoing.

Our clients have sought to work with other women thwarted by the macho culture prevalent in academic medicine. They have used a website and Twitter account, Equity Now at Mount Sinai, and have lobbied for new legislation to protect women in healthcare. Their suit prompted some modest internal reforms at Mount Sinai, but also caused hundreds of Mount Sinai staff, faculty and students to write to the Board of Trustees demanding change.