Portland, Ore. -- A former chief of staff at a Banfield hospital in Oregon filed suit against the corporate veterinary practice, claiming unlawful workplace discrimination and wrongful termination.
-— A former chief of staff at a Banfield hospital in Oregon filed suit against the corporate veterinary practice, claiming unlawful workplace discrimination and wrongful termination.
Banfield officials report they will vigorously defend against the claims made in the lawsuit.
Dr. Robert Nix alleges he was wrongfully demoted and terminated as a result of his “whistleblowing” about what he thought were questionable practices at one of Banfield’s hospitals. He seeks a jury trial, with economic and non-economic damages for his loss of salary and attorneys fees. He is seeking $199,000 in lost pay and $300,000 in compensatory damages, including reinstatement of his former position.
Nix began working for Banfield in October 2003 and arrived at its new Nyberg Woods Urgent Care center in August 2007, where he worked until late 2008. While employed at Nyberg Woods, Nix claims he worked with non-certified veterinary technicians with little training and a lack of support to complete the emergency procedures marketed at the facility. He also claims that doctors were encouraged to use ultrasound to boost revenue at the struggling clinic, “whether needed or not,” according to the complaint, filed in late April in Oregon’s Multnomah County Circuit Court. Nix contends he was terminated because he voiced opposition regarding the use of ultrasound with certain medical cases.
“Banfield has, and always will, put the health and wellness of pets at the forefront of our practice. We strive to provide the highest quality veterinary medicine to the pets we treat,” Jeffrey Klausner, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Banfield, says in a statement on the case.
“We are deeply concerned by the allegations of a former Banfield doctor -- an associate who resigned from his position to pursue other opportunities and interests -- who has made false claims and unfounded statements about our practice, protocols and quality of medicine.”
Banfield, which operates more than 750 hospitals employing more than 2,000 veterinarians, “adamantly denies the claims” Nix has made and says the case was in mediation for several months before advancing to this point. Attorneys for the company have not yet had a chance to address the issue before the courts, according to Banfield.
“There is no merit to the allegations and Banfield intends to vigorously defend against the claims,” Klausner adds. “Not only do these allegations negatively impact our clients and our associates, but it also creates a false perception among our veterinary colleagues and industry partners. Our approach to delivering that high-quality medicine is simple -- we recommend the best course of action for the pets we treat each and every time -- no more, no less.”
No further court dates were scheduled by press time.