Doctor with ADHD awarded $500,000 after dismissal from medical residency

A man with ADHD was dismissed from his residency in family medicine.
A man with ADHD was dismissed from his residency in family medicine. (Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)

Fresh out of the Court of Appeal for British Columbia, comes a human rights case that examines to what degree students with learning disabilities have to be accommodated by an institution when pursuing a professional degree.

Turns out a lot.

A man with ADHD as well as a non-verbal learning disability, who had already received his credentials to become a doctor, was dismissed from his residency in family medicine by the University of British Columbia. ADHD and NVLD can cause people to have problems focusing, be easily distracted, have problems with details and organization, and have difficulties in social situations.

The man was dismissed from the residency in 2007, because the director of the program found that he “lacked necessary basic skills and was not able to meet the standards of the program even when provided with accommodations.”

As a result of his dismissal, he lost his job in a health centre and filed a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal a year later.

The tribunal found that his ADHD and NVLD issues influenced the school’s decision to dismiss him from the program, and that UBC didn’t go far enough in accommodating him.

The original tribunal decision came down in 2013, and ordered that he be reinstated in the medical residency program at UBC.

However, the tribunal also hit UBC hard in the wallet by awarding him high monetary damages. UBC was ordered to pay $385,194.70 in damages for lost wages, $75,000 for injuries to dignity, feelings and self-respect, a tax-gross up, and interest.

UBC appealed the decision to the trial court, claiming it was unreasonable to award him this much. The court disagreed, and agreed with most of the damages but not the injury to dignity award, which is the largest in a human rights case in British Columbia. UBC then made another appeal.

The appeal court upheld all damages. In doing so, the court found that due to the delayed entry into the medical profession, the man had lost out in a lot of earnings and that the humiliation he suffered due to his dismissal from the program warranted a high monetary award for injuries to dignity.

The court dismissed UBC’s appeal.

Find a Lawyer