Former Mount Sinai employees accuse management of sexism and ageism - MedCity News

Four former staff members of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have sue the school and its managementalleging that hiring decisions were based on sexism and ageism and that employees were discriminated against in favor of young men.

The lawsuit centers on the leadership of the Arnhold Institute for Global Health, which is part of the Icahn School of Medicine, and hiring decisions made by the school’s dean, Dr. Dennis Charney. In addition to Dr. Charney, the lawsuit accuses other leaders, including Dr. Prabjot Singh, Bruno Silva and David Berman of discriminatory behavior. This according to a news release by the firm representing the former employees, McAllister Olivarius. They are three women and one man.

According to the lawsuit, the school received a $12.5 million commitment in 2014 from the Arnholds, a prominent banking family, to expand the team’s work. Dr. Charney hired Prabjot Singh, “an inexperienced 32-year-old still finishing his residency,” as the institute’s director. The decision went against the advice of a search committee that had already recommended a highly qualified candidate, according to the news release.

The former employees accuse Dr. Charney of having a “well-established pattern of favoring young men who lack the training or experience needed to do the difficult work they have suddenly been thrust into.”

Several men employed in leadership positions were named in the lawsuit, including a prominent mathematician, a man who was hired to lead cancer research, a man who was chairman of the pharmacology department, among others.

“While some of them are undoubtedly talented, there is now a significant track record of these unrealistic initiatives failing at the cost of tens of millions of dollars, in part because some of them were run by underqualified and inexperienced young men, with whom Charney nevertheless was sedated,” the former officials said in the case.

One of the former employees who brought the case, Dr. Natasha Anoushri Anandaraj, alleged that during a meeting with the new boss, Dr. Abdulrahman El-Sayed, who is younger than her, he said he was excited to does not work with anyone over the age of 40. She was 41 years old at the time. When El-Sayed left the job, it was not offered to Anandarajah, even though she had been performing the duties for years, according to the lawsuit. At that time, Singh, who was employed by Dr. Charney, hired a younger man to replace El-Sayed.

“Singh’s message was clear: young men were valuable and older women were not,” the former officials said.

Other women over the age of 40 were treated similarly, and Singh verbally “gagged” them and “denigrated” their accomplishments, according to the lawsuit.

Each of the men named in the lawsuit engaged in discrimination, the plaintiffs allege.

Berman, chief of staff at the Arnhold Institute, was accused of “screaming furiously” at the women at the institute. Silva, a manager who oversaw the design team at the institute, was accused of calling the women derogatory terms and making disparaging remarks about their appearance, according to the lawsuit.

“Between Singh’s accusations and defamation supported by Charney, Burman’s angry outbursts and Silva’s offensive insults, each of the plaintiffs suffered damage to their welfare and mental health,” the former officials said.

Although Silva’s comments were mostly aimed at women, he also hurled racial slurs at one of the employees, Humale Khan, a Pakistani Muslim, and criticized him for not drinking and for going to pray, officials said. He also made comments when he was in the same room as Khan saying “it smells like curry in here”.

“He became concerned that he smelled bad and began to purchase and apply multiple deodorants and gum excessively,” the plaintiffs said in the complaint.

The school says the allegations are unfounded.

A spokesperson for Mount Sinai Health System issued the following statement:

“This new lawsuit brought against Mount Sinai and the Arnhold Institute for Global Health is a continuation of baseless discrimination and retaliation claims. The plaintiffs’ claims were dismissed in a previous lawsuit, and they are recycling old claims in this new one. We will continue to vigorously defend ourselves in this case.”

Three of the former employees in this case filed a similar lawsuit against the school in 2019. The same law firm represents them. And in January, a New York district judge partially denied Mount Sinai’s request to dismiss the case. The judge removed four plaintiffs from the case and allowed four to continue and move the case forward.

According to their LinkedIn profiles, Dr. Charney is still dean of the Icahn School of Medicine, and Prabjot Singh is now an associate clinical professor of medicine at the school. Bruno Silva and David Berman left Mount Sinai.

Photo: fstop123, Getty Images

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