A pediatric doctor who won a $75,000 judgment against her former employer, Boston Children’s Health Physicians LLP, just weeks ago is suing the Valhalla medical practice again.
Liliah Cantor, a neurologist from Mahopac, sued Boston Children’s Health Physicians and CEO Gerard Villucci on Nov. 13 in Westchester Supreme Court for allegedly preventing her from competing with the medical practice.
By withholding information in her personnel file, Cantor claims, Villucci and the medical practice induced her to continue working for below-average compensation “and prevented her from seeking alternative employment at a higher rate of compensation.”
“Boston Children’s Health Physicians categorically and completely deny any fraud was committed by the company or any executive of the company with respect to Dr. Cantor,” attorney John P. Hannigan, Bleakley Platt & Schmidt, White Plains responded. “Based on our review of the complaint, we’re going to make a motion to dismiss the complaint within two weeks, because we believe it is legally deficient.”
Cantor was hired in 2005 as a pediatric neurologist at Children’s & Women’s Physicians of Westchester, the predecessor of Boston Children’s. A partnership agreement negotiated in 2011 set her base pay at $150,000. If terminated, she was restricted from working in seven Hudson Valley counties for two years.
Cantor contends that the medical group verbally agreed to pay her $180,000 a year, though the terms were not put in writing.
Boston Children’s bought Children’s & Women’s in 2015. Cantor’s status was unilaterally changed from limited partner to employee, and she was offered $60,000 less per year.
Cantor refused the lower compensation but conceded to $150,000 a year, she says, because Villucci insisted that he had the legal right to reduce her pay to the rate in the 2011 partnership agreement.
Cantor sued Boston Children’s in 2017 for breach of contract, while still employed by the practice.
She continued to be paid $150,000 a year until this past February, when her position was terminated.
On Aug. 12, following a two-day trial, Justice John P. Colangelo ruled that Boston Children’s had wrongfully withheld compensation for more than two years. Though the 2011 contract had never been modified, the judge states in the decision, Cantor was paid $180,000 for nearly five years.
That conduct, he said, essentially ratified the higher compensation “on a regular and continuous basis.”
He awarded Cantor more than $75,000.
Cantor states in the new lawsuit that she had requested her personnel file but it was not made available until after Villucci testified in the trial that he had no knowledge of why her salary had been increased in 2012 to $180,000.
The personnel file, she claims, reveals that Villucci had approved the higher compensation and therefore breached the contract when he reduced her pay to $150,000.
Having breached the contract, she argues, Boston Children’s has no right to enforce the noncompete clause.
And because Cantor was unaware that proof of her claims existed, she had been pressured to make a difficult choice.
“She either had to work for reduced salary,” her complaint states, “or terminate employment with no opportunity to practice medicine in the widely restricted area.”
She is demanding unspecified damages, based on the difference between how much she was paid and the “income of physicians with similar level of experience and expertise” have been paid.