Yale accused of age discrimination for subjecting older radiologists, other docs to competency testing

The federal government has filed suit against Yale New Haven Hospital, accusing the prestigious university’s teaching hospital of discriminating against older physicians.  

Officials with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission believe Yale violated federal laws by forcing radiologists and other docs over age 70 to take neuropsychological and eye exams in order to gain or keep staff privileges. Younger physicians were not subject to this “Late Career Practitioner Policy," with the requirement based solely on age, the EEOC charged Tuesday.

"While Yale New Haven Hospital may claim its policy is well-intentioned, it violates anti-discrimination laws," Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC's New York District Office, said in a statement. "There are many other nondiscriminatory methods already in place to ensure the competence of all of its physicians and other healthcare providers, regardless of age."

In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that Yale administered this policy without any suspicions that staff doctors’ brain functioning had declined. Its actions violated both the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, the commission alleged. Burstein and the agency had sought to settle the matter before filing suit. But unable to reach an agreement, they’re now heading to court, seeking monetary compensation and elimination of the policy, according to the announcement.

On the other side, the hospital defended its practices Wednesday morning.

“Yale New Haven Hospital’s late career practitioner policy is designed to protect our patients from potential harm while including safeguards to ensure that our physicians are treated fairly,” YNHH said in a statement. “The policy is modeled on similar standards in other industries and we are confident that no discrimination has occurred and will vigorously defend ourselves in this matter.”

The Yale School of Medicine institution is based in New Haven, Connecticut, and offers a range of diagnostic imaging services, according to its website. YNHH’s board-certified radiology physicians are trained in various subspecialties, and the hospital is certified by the American College of Radiology in eight disciplines, including CT, MRI, mammography and ultrasound. It also serves as an ACR-designated lung cancer screening provider and breast imaging center of excellence.