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Only 3 doctors have joined wage-discrimination lawsuit

February 11, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Attorneys for Southern Illinois University School of Medicine indicate they will ask a judge to dismiss part of a lawsuit alleging wage discrimination because few female doctors have joined the litigation.

SIU’s lawyers noted in a January filing in U.S. District Court in Springfield that attorneys for former SIU surgeon Dr. Sajida Ahad were given permission by the court to inform nearly 130 female doctors on how they could join the “collective action.”

Three current and former faculty members at the school have joined the federal lawsuit, which was filed in 2015, the State Journal-Register reported.

“None of this is surprising or a major development for us,” said Bryan Wood, Ahad’s attorney.

According to Wood, female doctors are busy and haven’t looked into the option of joining the case. It alleges that female physicians at SIU were being paid more than $12,200 per year less than male doctors for similar work. Wood says a trial is months away.

SIU officials, who have denied Ahad’s allegations in the past, declined to comment.

Ahad, a bariatric surgeon, was employed by SIU and treated patients through its not-for-profit multi-specialty group SIU Medicine from 2008 through 2014.

Ahad, 43, received a base salary of $125,000 from the medical school and $110,903 from SIU Medicine in fiscal 2013, according to court documents. She currently is a faculty member at the University of Iowa.

SIU recently lost an administrative appeal of a U.S. Department of Labor ruling in which an administrative law judge last year ordered SIU to pay Ahad $223,884 plus interest for underpaying her in comparison with her mostly male peers at SIU.

In a related lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court, Allied World Specialty Insurance Co. says SIU Medicine isn’t entitled to coverage for legal costs or damages associated with Ahad’s lawsuit. Allied contends that SIU Medicine first notified Allied about Ahad’s wage cases in April 2017, which was too late to qualify for coverage.

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