ph-home-3partners-ronald-austinOn April 1, 2015, DRI member Ronald Austin, Jr., a partner at the law firm of Grant Law, LLC in Chicago, Illinois, obtained summary judgment on behalf of Defendants in the case of Dr. Chinyere Odeluga v. PCC Community Wellness Center, et al., U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Case No. 12-cv-07388. Plaintiff filed her lawsuit against Defendants, PCC Community Wellness Center, a federally-qualified community health center, and four of its physicians.

Plaintiff, a family medicine physician, was accepted into PCC’s maternal-child health fellowship, a one-year training program designed to enable family medicine physicians to perform C-sections and other obstetric procedures. Soon after plaintiff began the fellowship, PCC received complaints about her performance from attending physicians, nurses, and medical residents at the hospital where most of the training was conducted. At the conclusion of the fellowship, PCC refused to issue a certificate of completion to plaintiff.

The complaint alleged that defendants discriminated against plaintiff on the basis of her race, national origin, and age and created a hostile work environment. The court granted judgment in favor of Defendants on all counts alleged in the complaint. The court agreed with defendants that there was no direct or indirect evidence to support plaintiff’s discrimination and hostile work claims. In addition, plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination. The court found that plaintiff did not meet PCC’s legitimate performance expectations. PCC placed plaintiff on a performance improvement plan two months into the fellowship and later placed her on academic probation, but her performance did not improve. Plaintiff also failed to establish that she suffered an adverse employment action. Her primary complaint was that she did not receive a certificate of completion at the conclusion of the fellowship. The court found that a certificate of completion was not a term or condition of plaintiff’s employment. Therefore, PCC’s decision not to provide plaintiff with a certificate of completion was not an adverse employment action.

Originally written and published by a legal industry publication of DRI, “The Voice of of the Defense Bar”. DRI is the leading organization of defense attorneys and in-house counsel. Membership in DRI provides access to resources and tools for attorneys who strive to provide high-quality, balanced and excellent service to their clients and corporations. DRI is host to 30 substantive committees whose focus is to develop ongoing and critical dialogue about areas of practice.

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