Santa Clara — The Dhillon Law Group has filed a lawsuit in Santa Clara Superior Court against Stanford Health Care (“SHC”) on behalf of Ram Duriseti (“Dr. Duriseti”), a clinical associate professor at Stanford University, and, up until his wrongful termination, a physician in the pediatric emergency department at Stanford Hospital. Dr. Duriseti is alleging that SHC retaliated against him for engaging in political activity by terminating his employment in violation of California law.
For the duration of the COVID pandemic, Dr. Duriseti was among the courageous scientists and doctors who questioned the then-prevailing public health orthodoxy. Dr. Duriseti was uniquely positioned to offer expert guidance on COVID, given his background not only in medicine, but in data and decision science (Dr. Duriseti holds a PhD from the Stanford School of Engineering). “Ram Duriseti worked at Stanford Hospital for over 22 years and advocated for what he felt was a more humane, focused, and sustainable public health response, rather than a top-down program of school and business closures enforced by mandates,” said Dhillon Law Group Associate Jesse Franklin-Murdock.
Yet, by advocating against school and business closures and mask and vaccine mandates, and promoting a more humane, focused, and sustainable public health response, Dr. Duriseti found himself at odds with decisionmakers at SHC.
After SHC imposed a booster mandate on its employees, Dr. Duriseti made a decision not to receive a booster vaccine, which decision was informed by his review of the clinical data, his prior COVID infection, and his pre-existing medical conditions. Despite SHC’s failure to grant Dr. Duriseti an exemption, SHC overlooked Dr. Duriseti’s decision and allowed him to continue working at Stanford Hospital for many months.
During this period of time, Dr. Duriseti engaged in political activity by meeting with county officials, testifying at the State Capitol, giving expert testimony in various cases related to COVID policy, suing the State of California over AB 2098 (a bill aimed at punishing physicians who provide patients with “misinformation” about COVID), writing opinion-editorials, and more. As Dr. Duriseti’s profile rose (resulting in harassment from certain doctors), SHC terminated Dr. Duriseti by converting his status to “voluntary resignation”—nearly nine months after the purported deadline to get boosted. In doing so, SHC violated Sections 1101 and 1102 of the California Labor Code, which protects the right of employees to engage in political activity free from retribution at the workplace.
“Most boosted staff had symptomatic illness through late Winter and Spring of 2022,” said Ram Duriseti. “That is when I knew ‘patient safety’ was a talking point that was not grounded in data. Absent clinical justification, and given other information we cover in the filing, I believe the action a response to my political advocacy.”