FIRST ON FOX – A national physicians group is facing a lawsuit for a prestigious program carrying a $100,000 bonus that is only open to Black applicants.
Vituity is a 100% physician owned and operated patient medical network operating across the country that offers a range of medical care. They reportedly see 8 million patients annually and operate out of 450 practice locations. As part of its efforts to attract talent, Vituity offers a physician incentive program that includes a $100,000 signing bonus.
But Vituity is facing legal trouble with its “Bridge to Brilliance Program” because it apparently is only open to Black physicians, according to a new lawsuit. The doctors group Do No Harm says the program amounts to racial discrimination in violation of federal law.
“Black patients want the best doctors and the best medical care – not doctors that are racially concordant,” said Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, board chair of Do No Harm.
“Vituity’s Bridge to Brilliance Program, which offers physicians hiring opportunities and sign on bonuses on the basis of race, is abhorrent and rightfully illegal,” he said.
“Medical staffing agencies like Vituity are given the important responsibility of offering medical positions to the most qualified medical professionals. Like all aspects of health care, patient safety and patient concerns should be primary, not the skin color or the racial makeup of their physician,” Goldfarb added.
Vituity boasts that its program is “designed to bridge the gaps in access and opportunities in health care for historically marginalized communities.”
“Led by our DEI/Health Equity team, this program provides aspiring and current health care professionals with the resources and support needed to thrive on their journey in medicine,” its website says. “DEI” is a reference to “diversity, equity and inclusion.”
In a statement to Fox News Digital, Vituity said it “firmly believes in the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Bridge to Brilliance Program underscores those values.”
“We will vigorously defend the Program and continue our mission to enhance healthcare services for all communities,” the organization said.
Do No Harm, which says its mission is to “safeguard health care from ideological threats,” argues in its lawsuit they have “at least one member [referred to in the suit as Doctor A] who is ready and able to apply for the incentive program if Vituity stops discriminating against non-Black applicants.”
Do No Harm has over 6,100 members, including doctors, nurses and physicians across the United States and in 14 countries internationally.
The lawsuit alleges that the $100,000 signing bonus for the program is “much higher” than Vituity’s normal signing bonuses.
“[N]on-Black physicians like Doctor A are ineligible to apply to, and are excluded from, Vituity’s program. They cannot compete for the higher bonuses and other benefits on equal footing because of their race,” the lawsuit argues.
The lawsuit argues that Vituity is violating Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act, which “protects the equal right of all persons… to make and enforce contracts without respect to race.” Section 1981 also “prohibits intentional race discrimination in the making and enforcement of public and private contracts.”
The suit also alleges Vituity is in violation of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which states that “[a]n individual shall not, on the ground prohibited under title VI… be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under, any health program or activity, any part of which is receiving Federal financial assistance, including credits, subsidies, or contracts of insurance.”
Do No Harm also makes reference in its lawsuit to a recent Supreme Court case, Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. Harvard, which decided that affirmative action in the college admissions process is illegal.
“Racial discrimination is invidious in all contexts,” the lawsuit says, quoting a portion from the Supreme Court’s ruling.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, asks the court for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction from closing the application period, selecting and offering applicants positions within the program, or enforcing racially discriminatory criteria before the lawsuit is resolved. And eventually, for a permanent injunction barring Vitutity from enforcing its racially discriminatory eligibility criteria for the program.
“Medical professionals should be hired on merit alone,” says Goldfarb.