ACLU Announces Settlement of Lawsuit Against Healthcare Providers Who Discriminated Against Lesbian Patient

August 31, 1999 12:00 am

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LOS ANGELES — The ACLU of Southern California announced a settlement today in its sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit against a health care provider and one of its physicians who refused to treat a lesbian woman.

As a result of the lawsuit, the company will institute a series of measures designed to guard against any future incidents of discrimination, including bias against gay men and lesbian women.

The ACLU filed the case in May 1999, on behalf of Michelle Dupont against Dr. Ronald Axtell and Bristol Park Medical Group, Inc., saying that Axtell had discriminated against her during a June 1998 medical appointment. According to the ACLU lawsuit, Axtell told Dupont that, because of his personal beliefs concerning homosexuality, in the future she should be treated by other physicians in the Bristol Park practice.

“I am happy to finally put this painful chapter behind me and get on with my life,” Dupont said of the settlement reached last week. “My only hope is that through this suit, and today’s settlement, medical professionals now understand that discrimination against gay men and lesbians must come to an end.”

The settlement provides Dupont with financial compensation. In addition, Bristol Park Medical Group, Inc. has agreed to do the following:

  • Sponsor an in-house seminar for all Bristol Park Medical Group employees and support staff that will include reiteration of non-discrimination policies and sensitivity training for people directly involved in patient contact, with particular emphasis on non-discrimination based on patients’ sexual orientation;
  • Provide in-house materials that reiterate non-discriminatory policies at Bristol Park Medical Group and sensitivity training for all physicians in the group with regard to patients’ sexual orientation;
  • Require that all Bristol Park Medical Group support staff employees and physicians sign a form stating that they will comply with the non-discrimination policies;
  • Post signs at each Bristol Park Medical Group facility stating the group’s non- discriminatory policies, including non-discrimination with respect to patients’ sexual orientation.

“We at Bristol Park Medical have always had a policy against discrimination of any kind with respect to the delivery of patient care,” said Andrew Siskind, M.D., medical director of Bristol Park Medical Group.

“We are very sorry Ms. Dupont had an unsatisfactory encounter at one of our facilities,” he added. In order to avoid any future problems, Bristol Park has agreed to reiterate its longstanding policy against discrimination, including discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

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