Psychologist claims age discrimination in suit; Compares his forgetfulness to Rick Perry's

By Kelly Holleran | May 15, 2012

A man has filed suit against his former employer, alleging he wrongly lost his job because of his age.

Michael Stern claims he was working as a chief psychologist for defendant St. Anthony's Health Center when he was terminated from his job on Sept. 9, 2010, because of memory loss.

At the time, Stern was 69 years old and claims he lost his job because of his advanced age.

Before he was fired, Stern was required to undergo multiple evaluations for his forgetfulness, according to the complaint filed April 30 in Madison County Circuit Court. Doctors found that although Stern was extremely bright, he was experiencing short-term memory deficiencies, the suit states.

"The evaluation further indicated that Plaintiff could complete clinical duties, including psychotherapy, and made suggestions for a review of pharmaceutical interventions, for developing and relying upon common strategies to compensate for any memory difficulty, and for compensating strategies," the complaint says.

Despite the doctors' advice and Stern's recent good evaluation report, St. Anthony's Health Center terminated him, he claims.

"Many individuals such as Governor Rick Perry of Texas, President Ronald Reagan, or sitting U.S. Supreme Court justices experience moments of forgetfulness and remain fully capable of performing the essential functions of the jobs; only by linking moments of forgetfulness to advanced age (age 69), and engaging in illegal and unwarranted discriminatory biases, presumptions and prejudices about plaintiff's age did St. Anthony's make the decision to terminate plaintiff's employment," the suit states. "Defendant's decisions to suspend, require evaluation, terminate and/or refuse to accommodate were a direct and proximate result of plaintiff's age."

Because of his job loss, Stern has lost wages and benefits and has experienced emotional distress, humiliation and embarrassment, the complaint says.

In addition to St. Anthony's Health Center, Stern names the center's Vice President for Physician Services Patti Fischer as a defendant, saying she treated him as disabled and contributed to his job loss.

"Fischer refused to engage in any discussion with plaintiff and refused to provide any accommodations to plaintiff that would permit plaintiff to continue to work for defendant," the suit states.

In his complaint, Stern is seeking a cease and desist order prohibiting St. Anthony's from further violating the Illinios Human Rights Act and actual damages. He is also seeking compensatory damages of more than $150,000, plus attorneys' fees and other relief the court deems just.

He will be represented by Lee W. Barron of Alton and Kim L. Kirn of Alton.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 12-L-578.

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