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Veterinarian files whistleblower and retaliation lawsuit against former employer

News
Article

Mariana Pardo, BVSc, MV, DACVECC, was allegedly fired after witnessing unlawful practices and filing a complaint at the clinic

Editor’s note: Mariano Pardo, BVSs, MV, DACVECC, is a dvm360 Editorial Advisory Board member.

Veterinarian Mariana Pardo, BVSc, MV, DACVECC, and her attorneys have has filed a federal whistleblower and retaliation lawsuit against Animal Surgery Center of Long Island (ASC) and its founder Tomas Infernuso, DVM, DACVS. According to the complaint filed in the United States District Court Eastern District of New York,1 Pardo has accused Infernuso and ACS of medical misconduct as well as discriminating against staff.

Mariana Pardo, BVSc, MV, DACVECC

Mariana Pardo, BVSc, MV, DACVECC

In 2022, Pardo was recruited to join ACS as its emergency and critical care medical director but was reluctant to do so based on the proposed terms of her employment that the clinic initially offered. However, Infernuso later promised Pardo that a new contract would be finalized eventually while assuring her that she would receive all the benefits and compensation she had sought as terms of her employment. According to the complaint, Infernuso has not delivered on any of the promises made to Pardo.1

Shortly after starting her career at ACS, Pardo noticed medical misconduct and harassment of other staff members, according to the complaint. Pardo also stated in the filing that she became aware that the clinic was using unlicensed veterinary technicians for procedures, providing substandard medical care, and engaging in unsafe administration of controlled substances, while Infernuso engaged in mistreatment of fellow staff members. Pardo also stated, through the complaint, that she advocated for better treatment and conditions for employees at ACS continuously with Infernuso. When Pardo brought the issues to Infernuso’s attention, he was allegedly reluctant to address the issues which led her to create a spreadsheet where she wrote down in detail all that she witnessed or became aware of.

Pardo complained internally about the issues she was witnessing and was then allegedly faced with retaliation such as harassment and refusal of her pregnancy accommodations. Infernuso became overly hostile to Pardo, according to the complaint, demanded she work longer hours, and withdrew the promises he made regarding her compensation and benefits. Infernuso then fired her weeks after she disclosed her pregnancy, an action the complaint called “a final act of unlawful retaliation in response to her complaints and advocacy.”2

“It is my hope that this lawsuit forces Dr Infernuso to reflect on his behavior and leads to the necessary changes to guarantee that ASC’s patients receive the quality medical care they deserve and that his future employees are not subject to a dysfunctional and hostile workplace, as they deserve a safe and discrimination-free environment,” Pardo said in a prepared statement.1

“ASC and Dr. Infernuso must be held accountable for their blatant retaliation against Dr Pardo, who did nothing other than stand up for the ethical treatment of ASC’s animal-patients and nondiscriminatory treatment of ASC’s employees,“ said David E. Gottlieb, JD, and Meredith A. Fireto, JD, partners at Wigdor LLP, in the release.1

In 2021, Cliff Saffron, the former chief executive officer of ACS, filed a lawsuit claiming he was terminated after filing complaints that Infernuso was discriminatory toward employees, and engaging in sexual harassment in the workplace. Saffron also claimed that ASC was lying to clients about the medical qualifications of professionals performing surgery at ACS.1,3

dvm360 has made multiple attempts to reach Infernuso and ACS for comment regarding the allegations outlined in Pardo’s complaint. A response has not been received.

References

  1. Whistleblower Complaint Against Animal Surgical Center (ASC) of Long Island. News release. Wigdor LLP. January 10, 2024, Accessed January 11, 2024. https://www.wigdorlaw.com/news-press/whistleblower-complaint-against-animal-surgical-center-asc-of-long-island/
  2. Pardo v Infernuso DVM, P.C. d/b/a Animal Surgical Center. 2:24-cv-190. US District Court Eastern District of New York. (2024). Accessed January 11, 2024. https://www.wigdorlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Complaint.-Pardo-v.-ASC-et-al.pdf
  3. Saffron v. Tomas Infernuso et al., No. 604661/2021. New York State Supreme Court County of Nassau. (2021) Accessed January 11, 2024. https://trellis.law/doc/57482688/summons-complaint
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