MEDICAL RESIDENT FILES CIVIL RIGHTS COMPLAINT AGAINST MCGILL FOR DISCRIMINATION AND FAILURE TO ACCOMMODATE
Montreal, March 28, 2016 — A medical student at McGill has filed a complaint against the University with the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission, citing discrimination based on disability and race and refusal to accommodate, which worsened his mental health and caused him to resign from the residency program.
KC is of Middle-Eastern background and was enrolled at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine General Surgery residency program since 2011, where he did work at various Montreal hospitals in the Surgery department. He began to struggle with his residency as a result of academic difficulties caused by what he later found to be Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which was officially diagnosed in December 2012. KC’s physician was none other than the Director of the McGill Student Health Services.
Upon informing the administration of his diagnosis, KC was not informed of any accommodations that he could receive from the University. Instead, his program director decided he could no longer fulfill the normal residency task of covering surgery calls.
In June 2013, KC was put on probation due to his academic difficulties, based on an assessment of his work before his ADHD diagnosis and commencement of his treatment. KC contested his probation with the Faculty Postgraduate Promotions Committee (FPPC) and requested alternatives due to his disability. His appeal was rejected on the medically unsound grounds that his condition had been treated (although there is no definitive treatment for adult ADHD).
Beforehand, KC could not appeal his probation in front of his program Promotions' Committee despite the Evaluation and Promotion policy of the Postgraduate Medical Education (PGME) office.
During KC’s academic probation, his residency program did not allow him to benefit from a 4th unevaluated period despite the suggestion from the prior PGME Associate Dean. As well, a surgeon responsible for the rotation contacted all chief residents by email, noting that KC should only take senior calls with extra supervision, thereby humiliating KC.
Meanwhile, KC attempted to transfer into the Family Medicine residency program, in order to better accommodate his disability. However, between June and September 2013, despite his numerous attempts to seek a transfer, he was not permitted to do so by the Faculty while on his probation. Following yet another refusal for accommodation, KC began to develop psychological distress with depressive and anxious symptoms, which worsened with repeated administrative roadblocks.
Rather than being given a chance to change residency programs in order to accommodate his disability, and despite a support letter from his doctor and the support from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, KC was pressured to abandon residency entirely, after 3.5 years of residency training. He was told he could re-apply in one year.
KC approached the Office for Students with Disabilities at McGill for assistance and learned that he was the third medical resident to have been in recent contact with the Office due to disability-related discrimination, the absence of accommodation, and probation or dismissal.
The Victim also contacted the Ombudsman at McGill to report his case, who said that the Dean of Students would handle it. The Dean of Students acknowledged that KC should have received accommodations to prevent his situation from deteriorating.
However, the new Associate Dean of Postgraduate Medical Education & Professional Affairs, did not recognize KC’s diagnosis, and asked him to undergo psychometric tests to confirm his diagnosis and his ability for residency. KC complied, despite having previous documentation of his ADHD diagnosis deemed sufficient by University officials. The tests turned out to be favorable to KC.
Still, he was told that resuming his residency would not be in his best interests due to his prior academic difficulties and time off.
After several years of trying to receive support and accommodation from the school, he was exhausted, went on medical leave, and finally resigned from the residency program in November 2013. Since his withdrawal, it has been increasingly difficult for KC to find employment, as well as to find a residency position in Family Medicine throughout the entire country.
He learned in June 2015 that the Undergraduate Medical Education program at the Faculty of Medicine was placed on probation by the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools because “its medical education program is not in substantial compliance with accreditation”, failing to comply with many standards of faculty-student relations.
“I realized that I had been a victim of an institutional pattern of discrimination, failure to comply with legal requirements of accommodation, intimidation, and ineffective protection of student rights by different internal services at McGill, and that I am not alone,” KC said.
KC sought CRARR’s help in bringing his case to the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission. The Complaint was filed by CRARR in November 2015, in which it cites McGill for discrimination and violation of his right to dignity and honor.
CRARR claims $50,000 in moral damages, $20,000 in punitive damages, and an amount to be determined for material damages, for loss of wages and benefits. CRARR also seeks systemic remedies that include:
• Allowing KC to be re-admitted to the medical program of his choice with all the necessary accommodation of his disability-based needs;
• Mandatory training for all members of the Faculty of Medicine on their duties and responsibilities under the Charter regarding students with disabilities;
• Mention of remedies claimed in KC’s complaint in its report to the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools, as part of its review of McGill’s compliance with accreditation standards.
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