Former neurosurgery resident, Rylan Brantl, is suing his former employer, the University of Missouri, for $50 million. Brantl alleges that the chief of neurosurgery, N. Scott Litofsky, harassed and fired him without good cause. He further alleges that Litofsky created a hostile work environment during the years that Brantl worked there, between 2008 and 2013.
In the lawsuit, Brantl says he was forced to repeat a year of his residency despite having passed the required board exams. Brantl also says he was cut from the program, that Litofsky verbally chastised him in a humiliating fashion on a repeated basis, and that the university ignored repeat complains about the neurosurgery program. He and other residents had filed grievances saying that the university exceeded the number of clinical and educational hours residents are allowed to work. Both he and other students were reportedly threatened by Litofsky if they mentioned the violation to the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education.
After receiving poor evaluations for the department, Litofsky reportedly gave a lecture titled “Miasma in the Division of Neurosurgery” and set about scolding and threatening those who had participated in the evaluation.
In 2012, Brantl was sent to the University of Utah and received training in their pediatric neurosurgery department. Each of the three attending physicians submitted successful performance reviews of Brantl’s work. This contradicted the several poor performance reviews Brantl received from Litofsky.
Brantl received a job offer from Altru Health System. The job offer, which would have paid more than $1 million per year, was rescinded after Brantl was cut from the Missouri neurosurgery program. He now works as a general practitioner in North Dakota making a third of what he would have made at the new job.
Brantl is seeking $50 million in damages for harm to his reputation and loss of income.
Understanding Hostile Work Environments in Missouri
Brantl’s case cannot be litigated under the guise of a hostile work environment since the harassment of his superior was not directed at him because of his age, gender, race, nation of origin, or disability. Instead, Brantl must show that the reason why his employer dismissed him was due to retaliation. It is, regardless of why, unlawful to retaliate against an employee for filing a grievance.
On the other hand, it is problematic that Brantl waited for five years after being dismissed by the University of Missouri Neurosurgery program to file the lawsuit against the department. Brantl says that he could not afford to initiate the lawsuit until 2018 after being removed from the program.
Due, however, to the fact that the department and Litofsky specifically had a penchant for threatening to retaliate against students for filing complaints, all the plaintiffs will have to do is produce corroborating witnesses that the dismissal was based on retaliation and Brantl should see his payday.
Have You Been Unfairly Terminated?
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