Wednesday, October 4, 2023
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Ousted Radiologist Challenges Tenure Policy

COLUMBUS, Ohio (CN) - Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center asked older faculty to forfeit their chances at tenure, a radiologist says in a federal discrimination complaint.

Before resigning from OSU after a demotion this year, Nathan Hall spent eight years with its medical school as division chief of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging in the radiology department, according to his Nov. 13 complaint.

As a tenure-track clinical science pathway faculty member, Hall allegedly faced an 11-year probationary period to reach tenure status.

Hall says his performance evaluations were always positive, and that he was promoted to associate professor in June 2011.

When the school appointed Richard White as chair of the radiology department in 2010, however, "the environment within the department began to change for the worse," the complaint states.

As chair, White was Hall's immediate supervisor, according to the complaint.

Hall says White put "additional unidentifiable (and unattainable) productivity demands for Dr. Hall's position," and "finally made one thing clear" in Hall's June 2013 evaluation. (Parentheses in original.)

That thing "was asking all tenure-track faculty members over 40 years old to consider voluntarily coming off the tenure track to 'get ahead' on the clinical track," the complaint states (hyphens in original corrected).

"Dr. White sought to justify this blatant act of age discrimination by stating that the department could not afford to pay senior faculty, or as he put it, 'seasoned veterans,' in the manner it had been for nearly a decade," the complaint continues. "Faculty members under 40 years old were not given this treatment. As explained by Dr. White, the department was more willing to provide financial support to younger faculty members because they are 'at a different phase of ... life,' and are the kind of 'young bucks' the department is willing to support."

Noting that he is 45 now, Hall says the illegal policy was deliberate harassment.

He quotes White as saying: "I am willing, for the guys that just arrived to the best of my ability, to jumpstart their careers to a successful track. ... You [seasoned veterans] should be up and running."

Hall says he capped off the year by filing a discrimination and harassment complaint against White.

"Almost immediately, Dr. White's hostility toward Dr. Hall increased," the complaint states.

Hall notes that White began at this point to investigate 3-year-old allegations of a sexual relationship between Hall and a female staffer.

Hall says "one colleague even noted Dr. White's appearance of having a 'vendetta' against Dr. Hall."

White allegedly excluded Hall from meetings and denied him funding for a conference that he had attended in the past. This past April, White demoted Hall for "erroneous" reasons, according to the complaint. Hall says he resigned in August.

The ousted professor seeks punitive damages and other compensation for due-process violations, age discrimination and retaliation. He is represented by James Colner of Shumaker, Loop and Kendrick.

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