Radiologist’s Claim for Remote Work Ends in Victory

Radiologist's Claim for Remote Work Ends in Victory


The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work and interact with others. As the world continues to face this crisis, it is imperative that employers make accommodations to protect vulnerable employees. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for everyone. In a recent case, a radiologist claimed he was fired for requesting remote work due to a pre-existing condition.

The radiologist in question is Richard Heiden, MD, who suffers from ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune disease that makes him more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. Heiden requested to work from home in March 2020, when COVID-19 was declared a national emergency. However, instead of accommodating his request, leaders at his workplace allegedly issued a negative performance review and urged him to quit or be fired, which he did on April 2, 2020.

The radiologist had been working with NYC Health and Hospitals for less than a year at the time. He subsequently filed a lawsuit in December 2020, seeking unspecified damages from his employer, its radiology department chair, and Physicians Affiliate Group of New York, which staffs the hospital. The lawsuit was primarily based on allegations that he was discriminated against due to his disability.

The case came to an end on May 31, 2021, when U.S. District Judge Lewis J. Liman signed off on a settlement between the parties, dismissing the case. NYC Hospitals had previously been granted partial summary judgment on claims related to the New York State Human Rights Law and ADA. However, the radiologist’s claim against the hospital system was not fully dismissed, and the settlement agreement indicates that both parties reached a mutually acceptable resolution.

It is essential to note that the outcome of this case is a positive verdict for employees who have disabilities and other underlying health conditions that put them at risk of contracting COVID-19. The courts recognize that such employees are entitled to reasonable accommodations to protect them from harm, whether it be remote work or other adjustments that allow them to perform their jobs safely.

In conclusion, this case is a reminder that it is vital for employers to be sensitive to the needs of their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also essential for employees to know their rights in such situations and stand up for themselves when the need arises. While the outcome of this case is a victory for the radiologist, it also sets a precedent that employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. It is hoped that this case will be a shining example for future cases as our society continues to cope with the ongoing pandemic.