UCLA Finds Supervising Doctor Discriminates Based on Race and Sex but Keeps Her on Faculty

Friday, April 13, 2018 General News
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OAKLAND, Calif., April 12, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Dr. Chinwe Okoye filed a complaint in Alameda

County Superior Court today alleging discrimination and retaliation based upon her race, pregnancy and sex against The Regents of the University of California. She is represented by Oakland
law firm Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer.

Dr. Okoye is a highly competent anesthesiologist.  She was training at UCLA to specialize in pain medicine when she became pregnant with her first child.  While a Fellow for UCLA's Anesthesia Pain Medicine program, Dr. Okoye alleges she was regularly and systematically subjected to discrimination, retaliation and harassment by her then supervisor, Dr. Irene Wu.

Dr. Okoye complained to Dr. Michael Ferrante, Pain Management Fellowship Director, yet the harassing and retaliatory treatment was allowed to continue. Following her unsuccessful complaints to the Fellowship Director, Dr. Okoye complained to UCLA's Discrimination Prevention Office.  When that office investigated, they found that Dr. Okoye was discriminated against based on her race, sex and pregnancy and found that others had also been similarly discriminated against based on their race and sex. 

"It is nothing short of outrageous that UCLA is knowingly allowing a confirmed discriminator who has acknowledged a bias against women and people of color to continue to train medical students," said Jayme Walker, Esq. of Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer, who represent the Plaintiff.

When Dr. Okoye first informed Dr. Wu of her pregnancy, Dr. Wu suggested Dr. Okoye resign from the fellowship program. When Dr. Okoye did not resign, Wu allegedly began a focused course of aggressive retaliation, discrimination and harassment which resulted in Dr. Okoye being humiliated, berated and harassed for months to the point of being placed on bed rest due to a dangerous spike in blood pressure risking the health of Dr. Okoye and her unborn child. 

The complaint claims Dr. Wu's course of harassment against Dr. Okoye was condoned by Program Director, Dr. Ferrante, when he failed to intervene after complaints by Dr. Okoye.

After months of failure to investigate, an investigation was conducted and the investigator concluded, "Looking at the evidence, I concluded that [Dr. Wu's] behavior fit a pattern of targeting predominantly women and people of color for poor treatment."

"It is egregious that the Regents of the UC simply cannot get a handle on these types of harassment issues," said Gary Gwilliam, Esq. of Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer, who represent the Plaintiff.

Dr. Okoye is hopeful that her case may make a difference in how future women and students of color are treated at UCLA. 

"It should never be acceptable for any person, especially an expectant mother, to be subjected to humiliation, intimidation or belittlement. This type of behavior has no place in a public institution such as UCLA. People of high moral conscience should ban together everywhere to denounce this abhorrent behavior and demand that UCLA protect pregnant women and people of color from this treatment," said Plaintiff Dr. Chinwe Okoye

Contact:J. Gary Gwilliam (ggwilliam@giccb.com)  and Jayme Walker (jwalker@giccb.com) Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer (510) 832-5411


Cision View original content:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ucla-finds-supervising-doctor-discriminates-based-on-race-and-sex-but-keeps-her-on-faculty-300629362.html

SOURCE The Law Firm of Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer

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