Female orthopedic surgeon sues Stroger Hospital for discrimination, alleges pays male colleagues more

By Scott Holland | Jun 22, 2015

A female orthopedic surgeon is suing Cook County’s John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital for allegedly failing to pay her the same amount male surgeons earn for the same work.

Dr. Monica Kogan, 46, of Wilmette, has had a part-time contract position at Stroger Hospital since 2007. She filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Jan. 14, 2015, alleging sex discrimination. On March 26, the EEOC issued a notice of right to sue, giving her 90 days to file. On June 18, she did just that, suing the hospital in federal court in Chicago.

A specialist in pediatric orthopedic surgery, Kogan has held the same title of attending physician VII throughout her Stroger tenure. During that seven-year period, the only other pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Stroger has been Dr. Edward Abraham, whose title has been physician senior-surgeon. The remainder of the orthopedic surgery team are male, none of whom holds a lower status that attending physician senior XI, Kogan’s complaint states.

“Every male orthopedic surgeon at Cook County Hospital has a higher attending status,” Kogan wrote in her EEOC complaint. “Even though I have many years more experience than most of them.”

Kogan’s suit states her published annual salary, from her hiring through the end of September 2014, was $158,640, with her actual compensation calculated based on her time on duty, provided she worked at least one day a week. By comparison, she alleges Abraham held a higher rank and was paid based on a published annual salary of $220,480 through the same timeframe. The average annual published salary for the male orthopedic surgeons is $230,152. In addition to Abraham, only one other surgeon has more years of experience than Kogan, her complaint asserts.

Her EEOC complaint notes the hospital changed the way it pays doctors on Oct. 5, 2014, paying her an hourly wage instead of an annual salary. The hospital told her it pays her the same hourly rate as Abraham — $225.

“The work I perform for Cook County Hospital requires the same skill, effort and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions as the work Dr. Abraham performs for Cook County Hospital and the work the male orthopedic surgeons perform,” Kogan wrote.

The EEOC said its investigation was unable to lead to a conclusion her testimony and other information obtained established any statutory violations, though that determination does not certify the hospital is or was in compliance.

Kogan said she began asking about the pay disparity in 2009, specifically complaining about her earnings in comparison to Abraham, to no effect. Five years later, in September 2014, she filed a formal complaint letter with the chief of the hospital’s human resources department. Again, she alleges she received no response.

In addition to back pay, Kogan is seeking compensation for back and future pecuniary and nonpecuniary losses, liquidated and punitive damages, including prejudgment interest on all liquidated amounts due and owing, as well as her legal fees and any addition relief. She is requesting a jury trial.

Kogan is represented by Cynthia H. Hyndman, of Robinson Cruley & Clayton, of Chicago.

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