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Older Doctor Claims Schools Discriminate

WASHINGTON (CN) - U.S. medical schools and residency programs openly favor younger applicants and foreign nationals and reap financial gain by doing so, a Florida doctor claims in a federal class action.

Walter Karpinia sued the American Association of Medical Colleges, the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates and the National Resident Matching Program in Federal Court after being told he was too old to be a doctor.

Karpinia describes himself in the lawsuit as a 54-year-old Air Force veteran with a master's degree in mechanical engineering who has worked as a structural engineer.

Karpinia says he decided to become a doctor in 2007 and graduated from medical school in 2011. He says he scored above average on his MCAT, but his applications for residencies. He also says it was nearly impossible to get into medical school at his age.

"Plaintiff on his own visited [Medical College of the University of Florida], found a University of Florida admissions committee doctor, and asked the doctor what defects were in his application," he states in the complaint. "That doctor told him that 'You are too old to be a doctor.'"

According to the lawsuit, the National Resident Matching Program, led by defendant Dr. Emmanual Cassimatis, exacerbates the age discrimination by granting preference to foreign nationals over Americans.

"Defendants charge from $6,000 or $7,000 per student each year for foreign applications for employment and subsequent alien sponsorship at hospitals and other health associations which employ Resident Doctors," the complaint states.

It adds: "Defendants are paid sponsorship fees every year for every Resident Doctor who is not a citizen of the United States who is employed as a Resident Doctor, but the defendants are not paid such fees for citizens who are citizens of the United States whom they place as resident doctors."

Karpinia claims that denying employment to doctors older than 50 violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

"The conduct of the defendants has prevented plaintiff from completing the training and experience he needs to practice medicine and gain income commensurate with other Resident Physicians. The conduct of the defendants has prevented plaintiff from selection for employment by a hospital, medical firm, and or other health organization, by qualifying and placing non-U.S. citizens in place of U.S. citizens for financial gain," Karpinia claims in the complaint.

"The conduct of the defendants in denying him the opportunity to become a resident doctor and a full medical doctor will continue unless or until this court enters a declaration that the plaintiff is certified and licensed to practice medicine as a Resident Doctor in hospitals and other health care institutions, and grants an injunction that prohibits the defendants from use of age as a bar to employment or as a factor in selection procedures; requires the defendants to advise their subordinates and members that use of age or age related features as factor in the selection of Resident Doctors is prohibited; requires the defendants to place qualified U.S. citizens in residency jobs before placing non-U.S. citizens; and requires the defendants to advise their subordinates and members to employ qualified U.S. citizens before non-U.S. citizens."

Karpinia seeks class certification, declaratory judgment and an injunction.

He is represented by David Rose of Chevy Chase, Md.

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