Dr. Monique Turner is a talented OB-GYN who not only serves her patients but has also served her country as a 24-year member of the military, including her current post as a Major in the Michigan Air National Guard. For her service and being Black, she was wrongfully terminated and discriminated against by the private medical practice that employed her.
That was the arbitrator’s conclusion in awarding Dr. Turner over $719,000 in damages after a hearing in which she was represented by Sommers Schwartz attorneys Tad Roumayah and Matthew Turner. Specifically, the arbitrator found that Dr. Turner’s former employer, Women’s OB-GYN of Saginaw, Michigan (WOB), violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) when it terminated her and also engaged in race-based employment discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.
In October 2019, Dr. Turner advised WOB she would be deployed on a six-week mission with the Air National Guard beginning in January 2020. Her 2-year employment contract was set to expire in the middle of that deployment. In January 2020, a member of WOB’s Board of Directors advised Dr. Turner that the Board voted not to renew her contract and sever their employment relationship. Dr. Turner was shocked and surprised by the decision as it came seemingly out of the blue.
After reviewing all the evidence and testimony, the arbitrator found that Dr. Turner’s military service and upcoming deployment were motivating factors for her termination, rather than the employer’s claimed reason of an alleged disagreement between Dr. Turner and another physician that took place six months prior. As such, the termination violated the USERRA, which prohibits employers from taking adverse employment actions against servicemembers due to their military obligations.
The arbitrator also found it was undisputed that Dr. Turner was a good physician, received good feedback about her skills, and was never formally written up or disciplined by WOB before it terminated her and replaced her with a Caucasian doctor.
Because Dr. Turner was a member of a protected class who was qualified for her job, suffered an adverse employment action despite her qualifications and performance, and was replaced by a person outside of a protected class, Dr. Turner proved her prima facie case of racial discrimination in violation of Title VII and the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. As the arbitrator found that the given reasons for Dr. Turner’s termination “were pre-textual in that they seem on the whole to have no basis in fact, did not actually motivate Dr. Turner’s termination and were insufficient to motivate her termination,” she ruled in Dr. Turner’s favor on her racial discrimination claims.
The total award of $719,444.86 secured for Dr. Turner by attorneys Roumayah and Turner included $217,000 in lost wages, $217,000 in liquidated damages, $142,500 for mental and emotional distress, and $143,444.86 in statutory attorney’s fees.
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