Complainants must be named for case to proceed: Tremayne-Lloyd

By Kathy Rumleski, Contributor

Physicians who have launched a gender discrimination complaint against a Toronto-area emergency department chief must be willing to be identified if legal action is to take place, Toronto health lawyer Tracey Tremayne-Lloyd tells

The Globe and Mail reports that eight female doctors have retained a lawyer and alleged that up until October, no female physicians were hired to work in his department at an area hospital.

The appointment of a female physician came weeks after the newspaper began questioning the department chief’s hiring and training practices, according to the article.

“If someone comes forward and wants something legally done about a situation, they cannot hide,” says Tremayne-Lloyd, principal of TTL Health Law.

“They don’t want their names used because they worry this will affect their career and have negative repercussions for them.”

However, she says these women must reveal themselves if they make an accusation and feel they have relevant evidence to have someone held accountable for alleged unprofessional conduct and discrimination.

“They need to understand that if they want anything done about this kind of alleged behaviour and this doctor, in particular, they must be prepared to come forward,” says Tremayne-Lloyd, who is not involved in the matter and comments generally.

“A court or tribunal will say it can’t go forward in the dark,” she says

The women behind the complaint also claim this doctor won’t teach female residents and prefers working with males, the Globe reports.

Tremayne-Lloyd says the women have opened the door toward change, but they will likely have to sign their names to official paperwork.

“The women may need to testify or sign documents. You cannot feed it to a newspaper anonymously.”

She says if they remain nameless, there will be pushback from the other side, and the women’s lawyer may ultimately have to provide disclosure.

The Globe article states that when the accused doctor arrived to work there 18 years ago, the two hospitals' emergency departments were already male-dominated.

It also says that since 2002, the doctor hired 23 males and no females prior to October.

For at least two decades it has been commonplace for hospitals to maintain an equal ratio of men and women in the profession, Tremayne-Lloyd says.

The Globe article notes that since 2007, the Canadian Resident Matching Service indicates that, on average, 97 women have specialized in emergency medicine for every 100 men.

Tremayne-Lloyd would like to know the exact number of female emergency medicine doctors that were at the two hospitals when the accused doctor began employment.

“There should also be an investigation of the preceding complement of female doctors in the two emergency departments,” she says.

“We want to know what happened before he got there and if these two hospitals had a pattern of not hiring women.”

The doctors who filed the complaint through their lawyer can take comfort in knowing there are eight of them, Tremayne-Lloyd says.

“There is strength in numbers. They have retained counsel and have taken a step toward a resolution. On the face of it, there is a legitimate concern. Now they need to be prepared to unmask themselves.”

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