KCRA Sacramento aired a powerful report this evening on two racial discrimination lawsuits brought by physicians against Sutter Health, including Lieff Cabraser’s representation of Dr. Omondi Nyong’o in his discrimination case against Sutter Palo Alto Foundation Medical Group. With a subtitle of “Lawsuit alleges Sutter Health targets minority doctors to ‘keep them in line’,” the broadcast highlighted what the lawsuits allege are multiple violations of California law arising from a racially toxic workplace.
“Sutter Health is under fire,” noted the report, describing “serious allegations” against Sutter, one of the largest health care providers in California. The first lawsuit, filed by Lieff Cabraser on behalf of Palo Alto-based ophthalmologist Dr. Omondi Nyong’o in June of 2021, raises allegations that include racial discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. “[T]here’s really no other place to turn. I filed the lawsuit because I know that other Black doctors have felt that they are unable to speak and there are not internal channels. They have been closed,” Dr. Nyong’o told KCRA 3. A second suit, filed in August 2021, claims the hospital system used “… false allegations and intimidation tactics to target their own doctors–especially Black and other minority doctors–to ‘keep them in line.'”
[T]here’s really no other place to turn. I filed the lawsuit because I know that other Black doctors have felt that they are unable to speak and there are not internal channels. They have been closed.
–Dr. Omondi Nyong’o
Dr. Nyong’o has worked for Sutter for 14 years. According to the complaint in his lawsuit, although “he was the first and only Black physician to ever chair any department within the Palo Alto Medical Foundation region of Sutter Health,” he was demoted. “I was suddenly replaced by two white doctors,” he stated. “I was told by Sutter leadership that they were not ready for Black leadership.”
“Specifically, what I was told is that it might be 10 years before people like me could enter into leadership,” he added.
KCRA’s report includes statements from other California doctors about how they have been treated by Sutter Health’s while working for its care systems, statements that echo the same frustrations and mistreatment cited in the lawsuits.
“I just want it to be known that this is not a rare thing that happens. It happens quite often.”
–Anonymous ex-Sutter Health physician quoted in KRCA’s report
You can read the full story and watch the video report on KCRA’s website.
Detailed information on Dr. Nyong’o’s lawsuit can be found here.