Dr. Leslie Radentz, a Riverside County dermatologist, sued the Tampa, Fla.-based American Association of Physician Specialists and its CEO William Carbone, in Federal Court. Radentz also sued four other ranking members of the AAPS, alleging discrimination, defamation, abuse of process, civil rights violations, unfair business practices and other abuses.
Radentz claims the association stripped her of her board certification after she criticized the board’s discriminatory practices.
Radentz’s 45-page lawsuit, with 172 pages of attachments, claims the association delayed women and minorities’ certification exams, plagiarized material for tests from decades-old textbooks to which only male doctors were given access, and repeatedly flunks women doctors.
She claims the AAPS “maintained a custom of permitting its residency trainers to assist male applications with their preparation for the [dermatology certification] exam by providing copies of the exact test questions contained on the exam. … These questions were deliberately selected by the BCD [Board of Certification in Dermatology] for the purpose of enabling the members of AAPS in control of the examination process to discriminate against women and minority candidates by testing arcane questions which were usually unrelated to the subject matter than a dermatology resident would reasonably be expected to maintain an awareness of in order to display competence to be certified to practice dermatology.”
Radentz claims that three years ago she discovered the association had suspended three male physician members who had asked for an investigation of claims that Carbone had shown pornographic emails to the association’s former director of certification, Cassandra Newby.
Newby had taken legal action in 2011 against Carbone in Hillsborough County Court in Florida, claiming he verbally abused her, inflicted “bruises upon her buttocks” and “exposed Newby to ‘pornographic (and even racially biased) pictorial emails,'” Radentz claims in her lawsuit.
“‘These pictures included pictures of women with large bare breasts and women with their genitals and backsides exposed,'” the lawsuit states.
Newby is not a party to Radentz’s complaint, which adds: “Carbone and AAPS confidentially settled Newby’s lawsuit for an undisclosed dollar amount, but took no corrective remedial measures to insure that the pattern of discrimination within AAPS would end.”
After the male doctors were suspended for asking for the investigation of the alleged racism and pornography, Radentz claims, she objected to the suspensions in a posting on the association’s private page on the professional networking site LinkedIn.
For her troubles, Radentz says, the association removed her message, and threatened to sue her and revoke her membership.
The association’s “leadership retaliated upon Dr. Radentz’s protected speech because her post challenged the administration’s illegal retaliation toward members who had opposed workplace sexual discrimination and other unlawful conduct,” Radentz claims in her lawsuit.
The three suspended physicians sued the association in 2011, which countersued them for defamation, adding Radentz as a defendant, Radentz says.
She claims Carbone was behind this legal action, though he had admitted at a deposition in the Newby case that he had shown his colleague the lurid emails.
Radentz claims the association expelled her last year. She says she was a “thorn in the side” of the association and its members “who consistently sought to achieve power over others through intimidation and forced silence, backed up by threats of adverse administrative disciplinary actions and the filing of costly lawsuits by big law firms.”
“Dr. Radentz, unlike many of her colleagues, did not succumb to the intimidation, and continued to speak out against discrimination in an attempt to hold Carbone accountable for the wrongs he perpetrated towards female staff members, at a time where other doctors in the organization did not have the courage to say that Carbone had engaged in abusive, discriminatory conduct due to fear of retaliatory consequences,” according to the complaint.
Radentz claims the loss of her board certification means she will have to redo her residency to recertify. She claims her exclusion from various insurance networks could cost her $200,000 a year for the rest of her working life.
Also named as defendants are AAPS president Robert Cerrato, vice-president Susan Slominsky, and executives Svetlana Rubakovic and Ken Wallace.
Radentz demands an injunction against discrimination and damages of $5 million.
She is represented by George Karpouzis of GK Legal in Rancho Cucamonga.
In an email to Courthouse News Service, AAPS spokeswoman Monique Tapie denied the allegations of a “frivolous and meritless lawsuit.” She said AAPS testing is “fair and balanced, and all individuals take the exact same exam.”
Carbone “never sent pornographic or racist emails to any female employees,” Tapie added.
“In short, one can be stripped of AAPS membership but still maintain their certificate,” Tapie wrote. “Dr. Radentz was stripped of her membership because of her defamatory and harassing acts. Such termination of membership was conducted pursuant to the by-laws and Florida law at an internal administrative hearing wherein Dr. Radentz never even bothered to appear to contest the charges against her. All other claims made in her lawsuit wherein she claims damages and harm from the loss of her certification are also therefore false.”
The AASP meanwhile plans to add claims about Radentz’s lawsuit to its current complaint against her.
Tapie said that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rejected the claims of two of Radentz’s “co-conspirators” because the agency found “no employment relationship with AAPS.”
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